Numerical simulations of surface wave transformation due to shoaling and refraction are used to examine the distribution of wave energy, mean frequency, and direction along the coastline of the north Sea. The variability in the directional distribution of typical swell events, entering the North Sea between the Orkney-Shetland and Shetland-Norway, are calculated from reverse ray projections. The results show that the German Bight divides the coastal wave climate and the directional characteristics of swell into a northern and southern domain and provides shelter to the Elbe and Weser estuaries from high sea states associated with swell from the North Atlantic when generation of waves from local winds in the North Sea is negligible. This approach provides a more realistic description of the costal were climate than has been possible with conventional techniques. Furthermore, it was found that the spatial variability in mean spectral parameters is considerable and depends on both near and far zone topographic features.
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