Acta Oceanologica Sinica

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 44–50 | Cite as

A study on the relationships between the wave height and the El Niño in the north area of the South China Sea

  • Shuzong Han
  • Yongbin Fan
  • Yangyang Dong
  • Shuangquan Wu


On the basis of the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) 20 a wind field reanalysis data, the wave field of the north area of the South China Sea is calculated with the combination of the HIRHAM wind field model and the SWAN wave model. Then a significant wave height compared with the El Niño index to study the relationships between these variables. The following conclusions are drawn: (1) the wave height of the South China Sea has a strong seasonal variation, the wave height is much larger in winter than in summer; (2) in the South China Sea, the monthly average wave height of the north area has a negative correlation with the Niño3.4 index, most area of the South China Sea has a moderate correlation and the area between Taiwan Province of China and Philippines is highly correlated; and (3) in the strong El Niño years, the significant wave height in the north area of the South China Sea is significantly smaller than in other years; if the El Niño index variability is greater, the wave height decreases. In contrast, the significant wave height in the north area of the South China Sea is larger in the strong La Niña years.

Key words

South China Sea SWAN wave significant wave height El Niño 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The authors thank the ECMWF for providing the sea surface wind speed data. We would also like to thank the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center for providing the Niño3.4 index.


  1. Chen Qili. 1989. A study of typhoon waves in the South China Sea. Marine Forecasts (in Chinese), 6(3): 1–11Google Scholar
  2. Chu P C, Cheng K F. 2008. South China Sea wave characteristics during typhoon Muifa passage in winter 2004. Journal of Oceanography, 64(1): 1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fang Guohong, Chen Haiying, Wei Zexun, et al. 2006. Trends and interannual variability of the South China Sea surface winds, surface height, and surface temperature in the recent decade. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111(C11): C11S16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Feng Lihua. 2001. Tropical cyclone in China and El Niño event. Marine Science (in Chinese), 25(9): 36–38Google Scholar
  5. Han Shuzong, Shi Yujiao. 2013. The distributional character of typhoon waves in the east China sea. Periodical of Ocean University of China (in Chinese), 43(10): 1–7Google Scholar
  6. Jia Xiao, Pan Junning, Niclasen B. 2010. Improvement and validation of wind energy input in SWAN model. Journal of Hohai University: Natural Sciences (in Chinese), 38(5): 585–591Google Scholar
  7. Jiang Lifang, Zhang Zhixu, Qi Yiquan et al. 2011. Simulations of the northern South China Sea using WAVEWATCH III and SWAN. Journal of Tropical Oceanography (in Chinese), 30(5): 27–37Google Scholar
  8. Kiladis G N, van Loon H. 1988. The southern oscillation: Part VII. Meteorological anomalies over the Indian and Pacific sectors associated with the extremes of the oscillation. Monthly Weather Review, 116(1): 120–136Google Scholar
  9. Li Chongyin. 1988. Actions of typhoons over the western pacific (including the South China Sea) and El Niño. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 5(1): 107–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lim Y K, Kim K Y. 2007. ENSO impact on the space-time evolution of the regional Asian summer monsoons. Journal of Climate, 20(11): 2397–2415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Meng Cuiling, Xu Zongxue. 2007. Relation between ENSO and precipitation in Shandong. Yellow River (in Chinese), 29(1): 33–35, 42Google Scholar
  12. Mirzaei A, Tangang F, Juneng L, et al. 2013. Wave climate simulation for southern region of the South China Sea. Ocean Dynamics, 63(8): 961–977CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mirzaei A, Tangang F, Juneng L. 2014. Wave energy potential along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Energy, 68: 722–734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Qi Yiquan, Shi Ping, Mao Qingwen. 1998. Characteristics of sea wave over the northern South China Sea from GEOSAT altimetric observations. Haiyang Xuebao (in Chinese) 20(2): 20–26Google Scholar
  15. Qi Yiquan, Shi Ping, Mao Qingwen, et al. 1998. Analysis of typhoon Betty 1987 on sea surface wind and wave over the western Pacific using Geosat altimetric data. Haiyang Xuebao (in Chinese), 20(3): 27–35Google Scholar
  16. Rogers W E, Kaihatu J M, Hsu L, et al. 2007. Forecasting and hindcasting waves with the SWAN model in the Southern California Bight. Coastal Engineering, 54(1): 1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Shi Neng, Zhou Jiade. 1990. Statistical analysis of relationship between typhoon activities over the northwestern Pacific and El Niño/Southern oscillation. Journal of Nanjing Institute of Meteorology (in Chinese), 13(3): 402–409Google Scholar
  18. Stopa J E, Cheung K F, Tolman H L, et al. 2013. Patterns and cycles in the climate forecast system reanalysis wind and wave data. Ocean Modelling, 70: 207–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sun Chengzhi, Zhang Shengjun. 2007. The relationship between El Niño and the activity of typhoon in southeast China sea. Ocean Technology (in Chinese), 26(4): 94–97Google Scholar
  20. Wan Yong, Zhang Jie, Meng Junmin, et al. 2015. A wave energy resource assessment in the China’s seas based on multi-satellite merged radar altimeter data. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 34(3): 115–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Yaakob O, Hashim F E, Omar K M, et al. 2016. Satellite-based wave data and wave energy resource assessment for South China Sea. Renewable Energy, 88: 359–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Yadav R K, Ramu D A, Dimri A P. 2013. On the relationship between ENSO patterns and winter precipitation over North and Central India. Global and Planetary Change, 107: 50–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Yang Shengqiang, Hou Yijun, Liu Yahao. 2015. Observed typhoon wave spectrum in northern South China Sea. Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, 33(5): 1286–1294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Yu Mugeng. 1984. Analysing the characteristics of wave distribution in the south China sea on the basis of ship reports. Marine Science Bulletin (in Chinese), 3(4): 1–8Google Scholar
  25. Yuan Yuan, Yang Hui, Li Chongyin. 2012. Study of El Niño events of different types and their potential impact on the following summer precipitation in China. Acta Meteorologica Sinica (in Chinese), 70(3): 467–478Google Scholar
  26. Zheng Chongwei, Li Chongyin. 2015. Variation of the wave energy and significant wave height in the China Sea and adjacent waters. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 43: 381–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zheng Chongwei, Pan Jing, Li Jiaxun. 2013. Assessing the China Sea wind energy and wave energy resources from 1988 to 2009. Ocean Engineering, 65: 39–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zheng Chongwei, Zheng Yuyan, Chen Hongchun. 2011. Research on wave energy resources in the northern south China sea during recent 10 years using SWAN wave model. Journal of Subtropical Resources and Environment (in Chinese), 6(2): 54–59Google Scholar
  29. Zhou Liangming, Wu Lunyu, Guo Peifang, et al. 2007. Simulation and study of wave in South China Sea using WAVEWATCH-III. Journal of Tropical Oceanography (in Chinese), 26(5): 1–8Google Scholar
  30. Zhuang Li. 1999. Characteristics of the wind and wave fields of typhoon over the northwest pacific. Meteorological Monthly (in Chinese), 24(7): 20–24Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Oceanography and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuzong Han
    • 1
  • Yongbin Fan
    • 1
  • Yangyang Dong
    • 1
  • Shuangquan Wu
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Oceanic and Atmospheric SciencesOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  2. 2.National Marine Information CenterState Oceanic AdministrationTianjinChina

Personalised recommendations