Multi-directional wave spectra from marine X-band radar

Björn Lund, Clarence O. Collins, Hitoshi Tamura, Hans C. Graber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The signal measured by heave–pitch–roll directional wave buoys yields the first four coefficients of a Fourier series. Data adaptive methods must be employed to estimate a directional wave spectrum. Marine X-band radars (MRs) have the advantage over buoys that they can measure “model-free” two-dimensional (2D) wave spectra. This study presents the first comprehensive validation of MR-derived multi-directional wave characteristics. It is based on wave data from the 2010 Impact of Typhoons on the Ocean in the Pacific (ITOP) experiment in the Philippine Sea, namely MR measurements from R/V Roger Revelle, Extreme Air–Sea Interaction (EASI) buoy measurements, as well as WAVEWATCH-III (WW3) modeling results. Buoy measurements of mean direction and spreading as function of frequency, which do not require data adaptive methods, are used to validate the WW3 wave spectra. An advanced MR wave retrieval technique is introduced that addresses various shortcomings of existing methods. Spectral partitioning techniques, applied to MR and WW3 results, reveal that multimodal seas are frequently present. Both data sets are in excellent agreement, tracking the evolution of up to 4 simultaneous wave systems over extended time periods. This study demonstrates MR’s and WW3’s strength at measuring and predicting 2D wave spectra in swell-dominated seas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-988
Number of pages16
JournalOcean Dynamics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Marine X-band radar
  • Multi-directional wave spectra
  • Ocean waves
  • Remote sensing
  • Shipboard wave measurements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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