Long-term statistics of potentially hazardous sea states in the North Sea 1958–2014


Significant wave height and mean wave period are two of the most commonly used parameters to describe wave climate, wave climate variability, and their potential long-term changes. While these parameters are generally useful to characterize the distribution of waves within a given sea state, they provide less information about potentially high-risk situations. Over the recent years, a number of criteria were suggested that are considered to better characterize high-risk situations and which could bear a potential for the development of safety warning indices. Based on a multi-decadal high-resolution wind-wave hindcast, a climatology of such parameters is developed for the North Sea covering the years 1958–2014. More specifically, average conditions, inter-annual variability and long-term changes for unusually steep, rapidly developing and crossing sea states are considered. Generally, there are pronounced spatial variations in the frequency of such sea states, while over time, there is some seasonal and inter-annual variability but no substantial long-term trend could be identified.
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