Wave spectral energy variability in the northeast Pacific

Journal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
By: , and 



The dominant characteristics of wave energy variability in the eastern North Pacific are described from NOAA National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) buoy data collected from 1981 to 2003. Ten buoys at distributed locations were selected for comparison based on record duration and data continuity. Long‐period (LP) [T > 12] s, intermediate‐period [6 ≤ T ≤ 12] s, and short‐period [T < 6] s wave spectral energy components are considered separately. Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analyses of monthly wave energy anomalies reveal that all three wave energy components exhibit similar patterns of spatial variability. The dominant mode represents coherent heightened (or diminished) wave energy along the West Coast from Alaska to southern California, as indicated by composites of the 700 hPa height field. The second EOF mode reveals a distinct El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO)‐associated spatial distribution of wave energy, which occurs when the North Pacific storm track is extended unusually far south or has receded to the north. Monthly means and principal components (PCs) of wave energy levels indicate that the 1997–1998 El Niño winter had the highest basin‐wide wave energy within this record, substantially higher than the 1982–1983 El Niño. An increasing trend in the dominant PC of LP wave energy suggests that storminess has increased in the northeast Pacific since 1980. This trend is emphasized at central eastern North Pacific locations. Patterns of storminess variability are consistent with increasing activity in the central North Pacific as well as the tendency for more extreme waves in the south during El Niño episodes and in the north during La Niña.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Wave spectral energy variability in the northeast Pacific
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
DOI 10.1029/2004JC002398
Volume 110
Issue 3
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 15 p.
First page 1
Last page 15
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