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L. Dell'Osso, L. Bertotti, and L. Cavaleri

Abstract

The storm that disrupted the meeting between President Gorbachev and President Bush in Malta between 2 and 3 December 1989 is analyzed. The meteorological situation that caused the storm was simulated with two European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) atmospheric numerical models—a global model (resolution T106) and a limited-area model (resolution T333)—and its effect on the sea was simulated with an advanced wave model (WAM). Verification of the wind and wave forecast shows that to obtain a realistic forecast of wave height and distribution it is necessary to increase the horizontal resolution of the model, whose grid size must be no more than 40 km.

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L. Cavaleri, B. Fox-Kemper, and M. Hemer

The role waves play in modulating interactions between oceans and atmosphere is emphasized. All exchanges (e.g., momentum, energy, heat, mass, radiation fluxes) are influenced by the geometrical and physical characteristics of the ocean surface, which separates the atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers. A qualitative overview of the main relevant surface gravity wave–driven processes at the air–sea interface that may have an important role in the coupled climate system in general and the atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers in particular is provided.

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L. Cavaleri, A. Benetazzo, F. Barbariol, J.-R. Bidlot, and P. A. E. M. Janssen

Abstract

In a parallel paper mainly focused on the meteorological and oceanographic aspects, the conditions were described for the storm during which the iconic Draupner wave was recorded. Because of increased spatial resolution and improved model physics, the results provided new and previously unrecognized features of the storm, in particular of the wave spectra, features relevant for assessing the wave’s conditions nearby the Draupner platform. Starting from these, and after briefly summarizing the relevant information, the focus of this paper is on the nonlinear analysis of the local situation, with the main purpose of assessing if and how the conditions existed for the possible appearance of very large waves. An intensive analysis of the related probability is carried out, attacking the problem with two different statistical approaches, both briefly described: a completely new one working from the point of view of envelope heights, and a recent, though established, one based on space–time extreme waves. It is remarkable, and certainly supports this line of work, that the two different approaches lead independently to consistent results, supporting the idea, already derived from the meteo-oceanographic hindcast, that the wave conditions were indeed special at the position of the Draupner platform. This is related to a general analysis of high waves showing, also on the basis of 3D (2D space + time) measured wave data at open sea, how, given the severe sea state, the Draupner wave features represent what is expected at certain times and positions as the natural documented temporal evolution of wave groups.

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