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Sea State

The Sea State project is developing an 18-year data set (2002- 2020) capitalising on the rich satellite altimeter, SAR imager, and other data holdings available during that period.

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The “sea state” is the statistical description of wind-generated ocean wave properties, including their heights, periods and directions. Waves associated with the local wind form the wind sea, and waves propagating from remote storms are swells. The “sea state climate” is needed in all ocean and coastal engineering applications. The expected extremes over the lifetime of ships, platforms or coastal defences are of particular interest. Ocean waves contribute to sediment transport and extreme sea levels at the coast, the evolution of sea ice, and air-sea fluxes. Finally, ocean waves cause biases and random errors in the satellite measurement of other variables such as sea level.

The project will particularly focus on reducing the noise of sea state parameters, and combining seamlessly different satellite sensors, including the latest Doppler processing of altimeters. Synthetic Aperture Radars are particularly useful for swell properties and are unique in providing swell directions. Because waves are generated by the wind over the open ocean, the sea state climate varies with large scale climate patterns, such as El Niños, and trends. The project database will thus be analyzed to identify these patterns in order to help understand ongoing changes in sea state climate.

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