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Qingxiang Liu, W. Erick Rogers, Alexander V. Babanin, Ian R. Young, Leonel Romero, Stefan Zieger, Fangli Qiao, and Changlong Guan

Abstract

The observation-based source terms available in the third-generation wave model WAVEWATCH III (i.e., the ST6 package for parameterizations of wind input, wave breaking, and swell dissipation terms) are recalibrated and verified against a series of academic and realistic simulations, including the fetch/duration-limited test, a Lake Michigan hindcast, and a 1-yr global hindcast. The updated ST6 not only performs well in predicting commonly used bulk wave parameters (e.g., significant wave height and wave period) but also yields a clearly improved estimation of high-frequency energy level (in terms of saturation spectrum and mean square slope). In the duration-limited test, we investigate the modeled wave spectrum in a detailed way by introducing spectral metrics for the tail and the peak of the omnidirectional wave spectrum and for the directionality of the two-dimensional frequency–direction spectrum. The omnidirectional frequency spectrum E(f) from the recalibrated ST6 shows a clear transition behavior from a power law of approximately f −4 to a power law of about f −5, comparable to previous field studies. Different solvers for nonlinear wave interactions are applied with ST6, including the Discrete Interaction Approximation (DIA), the more expensive Generalized Multiple DIA (GMD), and the very expensive exact solutions [using the Webb–Resio–Tracy method (WRT)]. The GMD-simulated E(f) is in excellent agreement with that from WRT. Nonetheless, we find the peak of E(f) modeled by the GMD and WRT appears too narrow. It is also shown that in the 1-yr global hindcast, the DIA-based model overestimates the low-frequency wave energy (wave period T > 16 s) by 90%. Such model errors are reduced significantly by the GMD to ~20%.

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