A 34-Year Nearshore Wave Hindcast for Ireland (Atlantic and Irish Sea coasts): Wave Climate and Energy Resource Assessment

Frederic Dias
University College of Dublin
July 16th 2pm in room 2155

The Northeast Atlantic possesses some of the highest wave energy levels in the world. The recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in harnessing this vast energy potential. Due to the complicated geomorphology of the Irish coast, there can be a significant variation in both the wave and wind climate. Long-term hindcasts with high spatial resolution, properly calibrated against available measurements, provide vital information for future deployments of ocean renewable energy installations. These can aid in the selection of adequate locations for potential deployment and for the planning and design of those marine operations. A 34-year (from 1979 to 2012), high-resolution wave hindcast was performed for Ireland including both the Atlantic and Irish Sea coasts, with a particular focus on the wave energy resource. The wave climate was estimated using the third-generation spectral wave model WAVEWATCH III version 4.11, the unstructured grid formulation. The wave model was forced with directional wave spectral data and 10-m winds from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ERA-Interim reanalysis, which is available from 1979 to the present. The model was validated against available observed satellite altimeter and buoy data, particularly in the nearshore, and was found to be excellent. A strong spatial and seasonal variability was found for both significant wave heights, and the wave energy flux, particularly on the north and west coasts. A strong correlation between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) teleconnection pattern and wave heights, wave periods, and peak direction in winter and also, to a lesser extent, in spring was identified.