Database and Time Series of Nearshore Waves Along the Alaskan Coast from the United States-Canada Border to the Bering Sea

Open-File Report 2023-1094
Prepared in cooperation with Deltares USA and the University of California, Santa Cruz
By: , and 



Alaska’s Arctic coast has some of the highest coastal erosion rates in the world, primarily driven by permafrost thaw and increasing wave energy. In the Arctic, a warming climate is driving sea ice cover to decrease in space and time. A lack of long-term observational wave data along Alaska’s coast challenges the ability of engineers, scientists, and planners to study and address threats and effects from wave-driven erosion and flooding. To overcome the lack of available observational wave data in the nearshore in this study by the U.S. Geological Survey, waves were downscaled with the Simulating WAves Nearshore numerical wave model (SWAN) for the hindcast period of 1979 to 2019 from the United States-Canada border to the Bering Sea utilizing nine model domains. For each domain, the model was forced at the open boundary with 2,500 representative “sea states,” which are likely combinations of significant wave heights, mean wave periods, mean wave directions, and wind speeds and directions. The sea states were obtained from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts “ERA5” dataset for reanalysis of winds and waves using a multivariant maximum-dissimilarity algorithm. The SWAN runs created a downscaled wave database at each grid point, which was used to reconstruct the 40-year time series in the nearshore along the 5- and 10-meter isobaths at locations approximately 400 m apart and corresponding to transects spaced approximately 50 m alongshore, as developed for USGS shoreline-change assessments. Reconstructed time series were compared to observations to validate the numerical model and the downscaled wave database method and showed overall good agreements.

Suggested Citation

Engelstad, A.C., Erikson, L.H., Reguero, B.G., Gibbs, A.E., and Nederhoff, K., 2024, Database and time series of nearshore waves along the Alaskan coast from the United States-Canada border to the Bering Sea: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2023–1094, 23 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Data and Methods
  • Nearshore Model Observation Comparisons
  • Products
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Database and time series of nearshore waves along the Alaskan coast from the United States-Canada border to the Bering Sea
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2023-1094
DOI 10.3133/ofr20231094
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description Report: v, 23 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Alaska
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details