Observation of wave energy evolution in coastal areas using HF radar

Rafael J. Ramos, Hans C. Graber, Brian K. Haus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The capability of phased-array HF radar systems to sample the spatial distribution of wave energy is investigated in different storm scenarios and coastal configurations. First, a formulation introduced by D. E. Barrick to extract significant wave heightHs from backscatter Doppler spectra was calibrated and subsequently tested (to assess bias and uncertainty) with data from seven different buoy/gauge stations collected during three different field experiments.Afterward, Hs observationswere obtained for selected sampling locations within the radar effective domain (in all experiments), and a filtering technique based on wavelet transform characterization and decomposition was applied. The accuracy of the filtered radar-derived observations was assessed by comparing these estimates to results from independently calibrated wave propagation models. It was found that the HF radar accurately measured the energy field induced by different storm events. The filtering technique minimized the contribution of unrealistic features introduced by the presence of defective sampling, which is intrinsic to radar remote sensing at this frequency, and it proved to be central for the use of the HF radar as a tool to identify wave energy trends and potential zones of wave energy concentration in coastal areas. These findings show that the sampling capabilities of radar systems may be greatly enhanced because reliable wave energy estimates can be obtained in addition to conventional surface current measurements. This is particularly important in locations such as harbor entrances where in situ measuring devices cannot be deployed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1891-1909
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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