Estimating Directional Wave Spectra Properties in Nonbreaking Waves from a UAS-Mounted Multibeam Lidar

Falk Feddersen aScripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California

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Olavo B. Marques aScripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California
bOceanography Department, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California

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James H. MacMahan bOceanography Department, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California

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Robert L. Grenzeback aScripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California

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Abstract

Wave spectra and directional moment measurements are of scientific and engineering interest and are routinely estimated with wave buoys. Recently, both fixed-location and uncrewed aircraft system (UAS)-mounted lidar have estimated surfzone wave spectra. However, nearshore wave statistics seaward of the surfzone have not been measured with lidar due to low return number, and nearshore directional moments have not been measured at all. We use a multibeam scanning lidar mounted on a gasoline-powered UAS to estimate wave spectra, wave slope spectra, and directional moments on the inner shelf in ≈10-m water depth from an 11-min hover and compare to a collocated wave buoy. Lidar returns within circular sampling regions with varying radius R are fit to a plane and a 2D parabola, providing sea surface and slope time series. Wave spectra across the sea–swell (0.04–0.4 Hz) band are robustly estimated for R ≥ 0.8 m. Estimating slope spectra is more challenging. Large R works well in the swell band, and smaller R works well at higher frequencies, in good agreement with a wave buoy inferred slope spectrum. Directional Fourier coefficients, estimated from wave and slope spectra and cross-spectra, are compared to a wave buoy in the sea–swell band. Larger R and the 2D parabola-fit yield better comparison to the wave buoy. Mean wave angles and directional spreads, functions of the directional Fourier coefficients, are well reproduced at R = 2.4 m and the 2D parabola-fit, within the uncertainties of the wave buoy. The internal consistency of the UAS-lidar-derived results and their good comparison to the Spotter wave buoy demonstrate the effectiveness of this tool for estimating wave statistics.

Significance Statement

Previously fixed-location or hovering lidar has been used to estimate wave spectra in the surf and swash zone where lidar returns are high due to the reflectance of foam. We present a methodology to accurately estimate wave spectra and directional properties on the inner shelf where waves are not breaking using a hovering uncrewed aircraft system with a mounted lidar. The estimated wave spectra and directional statistics are compared well with a Spotter wave buoy, demonstrating the method’s robustness.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Falk Feddersen, ffeddersen@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Wave spectra and directional moment measurements are of scientific and engineering interest and are routinely estimated with wave buoys. Recently, both fixed-location and uncrewed aircraft system (UAS)-mounted lidar have estimated surfzone wave spectra. However, nearshore wave statistics seaward of the surfzone have not been measured with lidar due to low return number, and nearshore directional moments have not been measured at all. We use a multibeam scanning lidar mounted on a gasoline-powered UAS to estimate wave spectra, wave slope spectra, and directional moments on the inner shelf in ≈10-m water depth from an 11-min hover and compare to a collocated wave buoy. Lidar returns within circular sampling regions with varying radius R are fit to a plane and a 2D parabola, providing sea surface and slope time series. Wave spectra across the sea–swell (0.04–0.4 Hz) band are robustly estimated for R ≥ 0.8 m. Estimating slope spectra is more challenging. Large R works well in the swell band, and smaller R works well at higher frequencies, in good agreement with a wave buoy inferred slope spectrum. Directional Fourier coefficients, estimated from wave and slope spectra and cross-spectra, are compared to a wave buoy in the sea–swell band. Larger R and the 2D parabola-fit yield better comparison to the wave buoy. Mean wave angles and directional spreads, functions of the directional Fourier coefficients, are well reproduced at R = 2.4 m and the 2D parabola-fit, within the uncertainties of the wave buoy. The internal consistency of the UAS-lidar-derived results and their good comparison to the Spotter wave buoy demonstrate the effectiveness of this tool for estimating wave statistics.

Significance Statement

Previously fixed-location or hovering lidar has been used to estimate wave spectra in the surf and swash zone where lidar returns are high due to the reflectance of foam. We present a methodology to accurately estimate wave spectra and directional properties on the inner shelf where waves are not breaking using a hovering uncrewed aircraft system with a mounted lidar. The estimated wave spectra and directional statistics are compared well with a Spotter wave buoy, demonstrating the method’s robustness.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Falk Feddersen, ffeddersen@ucsd.edu
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