Characterizing random wave surface elevation data Academic Article uri icon


  • The definition and subsequent use of dimensional and dimensionless parameters to characterize various nonlinear aspects of ocean surface waves has again become a matter of great interest to the offshore community. The desire to ascertain whether laboratory simulations are adequately representing the surface waves found in the oceans and the concern over the mechanisms behind platform response phenomena, like ringing, has driven this resurgence of interest. This paper presents a depth independent characterization of single design waves, from which improved estimates of localized wave crest front and back slopes follow that are consistent with discrete time series analysis. Characterization of the nature of the entire wave data recorded requires a combination of spectral parameters and probabilistic models in addition to those used in the design wave characterization. A new expression for the direct evaluation of the kurtosis from knowledge of the spectral bandwidth, the relationship between some of the common spectral parameters, and some modified spectral parameters are presented and discussed. Three illustrative examples are presented. The first example provides a detailed examination of wave data measured from a series of random amplitude and random phase tests in a large model basin. The second presents estimates of the various parameters for the Pierson-Moskowitz and Wallops wave spectrum models. The third example investigates the use of the spectral peakedness ratio for comparing data with selected wave spectrum models. The examples illustrate how the formulae can provide a comprehensive local and global parametric characterization of surface wave elevation data.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Niedzwecki, J. M., van de Lindt, J. W., & Sandt, E. W.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Niedzwecki, JM||van de Lindt, JW||Sandt, EW

publication date

  • January 1999