On recording sea surface elevation with accelerometer buoys: Lessons from ITOP (2010) Topical Collection on the 13th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting in Banff, Alberta, Canada October 27 - November 1, 2013

Clarence O. Collins, Björn Lund, Takuji Waseda, Hans C Graber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Measurements of significant wave height are made routinely throughout the world's oceans, but a record of the sea surface elevation (η) is rarely kept. This is mostly due to memory limitations on data, but also, it is thought that buoy measurements of sea surface elevation are not as accurate as wave gauges mounted on stationary platforms. Accurate records of η which contain rogue waves (defined here as an individual wave at least twice the significant wave height) are of great interest to scientists and engineers. Using field data, procedures for tilt correcting and double integrating accelerometer data to produce a consistent record of η are given in this study. The data in this study are from experimental buoys deployed in the recent Impact of Typhoons on the Ocean in the Pacific (ITOP) field experiment which occurred in 2010. The statistics from the ITOP buoys is under that predicted by Rayleigh theory, but matches the distributions of Boccotti and others (Tayfun and Fedele) (Ocean Eng 34:1631-1649, 2007). Rogue waves were recorded throughout the experiment under various sea state conditions. Recommendations, as a result of lessons learned during ITOP, are made for the routine recording of η which may not add significantly to the existing data burden. The hope is that we might one day collect a worldwide database of rogue waves from the existing buoy network, which would progress our understanding of the rogue wave phenomenon and make work at sea safer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-904
Number of pages10
JournalOcean Dynamics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014



  • Buoy measurements
  • Extreme waves
  • In situ data
  • ITOP
  • Ocean waves
  • Rogue waves
  • Sea surface elevation
  • Wave statistics
  • Wind waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography

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