Source term balance in a severe storm in the Southern North Sea

Gerbrant Ph van Vledder*, Sander Th Sander, Jason D. McConochie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents the results of a wave hindcast of a severe storm in the Southern North Sea to verify recently developed deep and shallow water source terms. The work was carried out in the framework of the ONR funded NOPP project (Tolman et al. 2013) in which deep and shallow water source terms were developed for use in third-generation wave prediction models. These deep water source terms for whitecapping, wind input and nonlinear interactions were developed, implemented and tested primarily in the WAVEWATCH III model, whereas shallow water source terms for depth-limited wave breaking and triad interactions were developed, implemented and tested primarily in the SWAN wave model. So far, the new deep-water source terms for whitecapping were not fully tested in shallow environments. Similarly, the shallow water source terms were not yet tested in large inter-mediate depth areas like the North Sea. As a first step in assessing the performance of these newly developed source terms, the source term balance and the effect of different physical settings on the prediction of wave heights and wave periods in the relatively shallow North Sea was analysed. The December 2013 storm was hindcast with a SWAN model implementation for the North Sea. Spectral wave boundary conditions were obtained from an Atlantic Ocean WAVEWATCH III model implementation and the model was driven by hourly CFSR wind fields. In the southern part of the North Sea, current and water level effects were included. The hindcast was performed with five different settings for whitecapping, viz. three Komen type whitecapping formulations, the saturation-based whitecapping by Van der Westhuysen et al. (2007) and the recently developed ST6 whitecapping as described by Zieger et al. (2015). Results of the wave hindcast were compared with buoy measurements at location K13 collected by the Dutch Ministry of Transport and Public Works. An analysis was made of the source term balance at three locations, the deep water location North Cormorant, the inter-mediate depth location K13 and at location Wielingen, a shallow water location close to the Dutch coast. The results indicate that at deep water the source terms for wind input, whitecapping and nonlinear four-wave interactions are of the same magnitude. At the inter-mediate depth location K13, bottom friction plays a significant role, whereas at the shallow water location Wielingen also depth-limited wave breaking becomes important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1681-1697
Number of pages17
JournalOcean Dynamics: theoretical, computational oceanography and monitoring
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Event14th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting - Key West, United States
Duration: 8 Nov 201513 Nov 2015
Conference number: 14


  • Nonlinear interactions
  • North Sea
  • Source term balance
  • SWAN
  • Wave modelling
  • Whitecapping
  • Wind input


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