SU Hui, WEI Chunlei, JIANG Shaocai, LI Peiliang, ZHAI Fangguo. Revisiting the seasonal wave height variability in the South China Sea with merged satellite altimetry observations[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2017, 36(11): 38-50. doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1073-4
Citation: SU Hui, WEI Chunlei, JIANG Shaocai, LI Peiliang, ZHAI Fangguo. Revisiting the seasonal wave height variability in the South China Sea with merged satellite altimetry observations[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2017, 36(11): 38-50. doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1073-4

Revisiting the seasonal wave height variability in the South China Sea with merged satellite altimetry observations

doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1073-4
  • Received Date: 2016-03-22
  • Rev Recd Date: 2016-08-25
  • The seasonal variability of the significant wave height (SWH) in the South China Sea (SCS) is investigated using the most up-to-date gridded daily altimeter data for the period of September 2009 to August 2015. The results indicate that the SWH shows a uniform seasonal variation in the whole SCS, with its maxima occurring in December/January and minima in May. Throughout the year, the SWH in the SCS is the largest around Luzon Strait (LS) and then gradually decreases southward across the basin. The surface wind speed has a similar seasonal variation, but with different spatial distributions in most months of the year. Further analysis indicates that the observed SWH variations are dominated by swell. The wind sea height, however, is much smaller. It is the the largest in two regions southwest of Taiwan Island and southeast of Vietnam Coast during the northeasterly monsoon, while the largest in the central/southern SCS during the southwesterly monsoon. The extreme wave condition also experiences a significant seasonal variation. In most regions of the northern and central SCS, the maxima of the 99th percentile SWH that are larger than the SWH theoretically calculated with the wind speed for the fully developed seas mainly appear in August–November, closely related to strong tropical cyclone activities. Compared with previous studies, it is also implied that the wave climate in the Pacific Ocean plays an important role in the wave climate variations in the SCS.
  • loading
  • ?Alves J H G M. 2006. Numerical modeling of ocean swell contributions to the global wind-wave climate. Ocean Modell, 11(1–2):98-122
    Anoop T R, Kumar V S, Shanas P R, et al. 2015. Surface wave climatology and its variability in the North Indian Ocean based on ERA-interim reanalysis. J Atmos Oceanic Technol, 32(7):1372-1385
    Booij N, Ris R C, Holthuijsen L H. 1999. A third-generation wave model for coastal regions:1. Model description and validation. J Geophys Res, 104(C4):7649-7666
    Chan J C L. 2005. Interannual and interdecadal variations of tropical cyclone activity over the western North Pacific. Meteor Atmos Phys, 89(1–4):143-152
    Chen Qili. 1987. The South China Sea wave climate and some problems about its forecast. Mar Forecast (in Chinese), 4(2):39-46
    Chen Ge, Chapron B, Ezraty R, et al. 2002. A global view of swell and wind sea climate in the ocean by satellite altimeter and scatterometer. J Atmos Oceanic Technol, 19(11):1849-1859
    Chen Hongxia, Hua Feng, Yuan Yeli. 2006. Seasonal characteristics and temporal variations of ocean wave in the Chinese offshore waters and adjacent sea areas. Adv Mar Sci (in Chinese), 24(4):407-415
    Chia H H, Ropelewski C F. 2002. The interannual variability in the genesis location of tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific. J Climate, 15(20):2934-2944
    Chu P C, Qi Yiquan, Chen Yuchun, et al. 2004. South China Sea wind-wave characteristics:Part I. Validation of wavewatch-Ⅲ using TOPEX/Poseidon data.. J Atmos Oceanic Technol, 21(11):1718-1733
    Dee D P, Uppala S M, Simmons A J, et al. 2011. The ERA-Interim reanalysis:configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Quart J Roy Meteor Soc, 137(656):553-597,, doi: 10.1002/qj.828
    Ewing J A, Laing A K. 1987. Directional spectra of seas near full development. J Phys Oceanogr, 17(10):1696-1706
    Fan Yalin, Lin S J, Held I M, et al. 2012. Global ocean surface wave simulation using a coupled atmosphere-wave model. J Climate, 25(18):6233-6252
    Fang Wendong, Fang Guohong, Shi Ping, et al. 2002. Seasonal structures of upper layer circulation in the southern South China Sea from in situ observations. J Geophys Res, 107(C11):23-1,, doi: 10.1029/2002JC001343
    Gulev S K, Grigorieva V, Sterl A, et al. 2003. Assessment of the reliability of wave observations from voluntary observing ships:insights from the validation of a global wind wave climatology based on voluntary observing ship data. J Geophys Res, 108(C7):3236, doi: 10.1029/2002JC001437
    Guo Suiping, Zhuang Hui, Zheng Chongwei, et al. 2012. The relationship between El Niño and wave field in the South China Sea. Mar Forecast (in Chinese), 29(6):37-43
    Ha K J, Heo K Y, Lee S S, et al. 2012. Variability in the East Asian Monsoon:a review. Meteor Appl, 19(2):200-215
    Hanley K E, Belcher S E, Sullivan P P. 2010. A global climatology of wind-wave interaction. J Phys Oceanogr, 40(6):1263-1282
    Hasselmann S, Hasselmann K, Bauer E, et al. 1988. The WAM model:A third generation ocean wave prediction model. J Phys Oceanogr, 18:1775-1810
    Izaguirre C, Méndez F J, Menéndez M, et al. 2011. Global extreme wave height variability based on satellite data. Geophys Res Lett, 38(10):L10607, doi: 10.1029/2011GL047302
    Jiang Haoyu, Chen Ge. 2013. A global view on the swell and wind sea climate by the Jason-1 mission:a revisit. J Atmos Oceanic Technol, 30(8):1833-1841
    Li Chongyin. 1988. Actions of typhoons over the western Pacific (including the South China Sea) and El Niño. Adv Atmos Sci, 5(1):107-115
    Li Xunqiang, Zheng Chongwei, Su Qin, et al. 2012. Wave climate and wind climate analysis in the China Sea from 1988 to 2009. Period Ocean Univ China (in Chinese), 42(S):1-9
    Liu K S, Chan J C L. 2003. Climatological characteristics and seasonal forecasting of tropical cyclones making landfall along the South China coast. Mon Wea Rev, 131(8):1650-1662
    Liu Qinyu, Kaneko A, Su Jilan. 2008. Recent progress in studies of the South China Sea circulation. J Oceanogr, 64(5):753-762
    Pierson Jr W J. 1991. Comment on "effects of sea maturity on satellite altimeter measurements" by Roman E. Glazman and Stuart H. Pilorz. J Geophys Res, 96(C3):4973-4977
    Pierson Jr W J, Moskowitz L. 1964. A proposed spectral form for fully developed wind seas based on the similarity theory of S. A. Kitaigorodskii. J Geophys Res, 69(24):5181-5190
    Qi Yiquan, Shi Ping. 1999. Analysis on monthly average distribution characteristics of sea surface wind and wave in South China Sea using altimetric data. Trop Oceanol (in Chinese), 18(2):90-96
    Qi Yiquan, Shi Ping, Mao Qinwen. 1997. The satellite remote sensing analysis of seasonal average characteristics of wind field and wave field in South China Sea. China Offs Plat (in Chinese), 12(3):118-122
    Sasaki W, Iwasaki S I, Matsuura T, et al. 2005. Recent increase in summertime extreme wave heights in the western North Pacific. Geophys Res Lett, 32(15):L15607, doi: 10.1029/2005GL023722
    Semedo A, Sušelj K, Rutgersson A, et al. 2011. A global view on the wind sea and swell climate and variability from ERA-40. J Climate, 24(5):1461-1479
    Shanas P R, Kumar V S. 2015. Trends in surface wind speed and significant wave height as revealed by ERA-Interim wind wave hindcast in the Central Bay of Bengal. Int J Climatol, 35(9):2654-2663
    Sverdrup H U, Munk W H. 1947. Wind, sea and swell. Theory of Relations for Forecasting. Washington DC:U. S. Navy Hydrographic Office Publication 601, 50
    Tao S Y, Chen L X. 1987. A review of recent research of the East Asian summer monsoon in China. In:Chang C P, Krishnamurti T N, eds. Monsoon Meteorology. New York:Oxford University Press, 60-92
    Tolman H L. 1990. A third-generation model for wind waves on slowly varying, unsteady, and inhomogeneous depths and currents. J Phys Oceanogr, 21(6):782-797
    Uppala S M, Kållberg P W, Simmons A J, et al. 2005. The ERA-40 re-analysis. Quart J Roy Meteor Soc, 131(612):2961-3012
    Wan Yong, Zhang Jie, Meng Junmin, et al. 2015. A wave energy resource assessment in the China's seas based on multi-satellite merged radar altimeter data. Acta Oceanol Sin, 34(3):115-124
    Wang Bin, Chan J C L. 2002. How strong ENSO events affect Tropical Storm activity over the western North Pacific. J Climate, 15(13):1643-1658
    Wang Lei, Fung C H, Lau L K. 2007. The upper ocean thermal structure and the genesis locations of tropical cyclones in the South China Sea. J Ocean Univ China, 6(2):125-131
    Wu Lingli, Wang X L, Feng Yang. 2014. Historical wave height trends in the South and East China Seas, 1911-2010. J Geophys Res, 119(7):4399-4409
    Xie Shangping, Xie Qiang, Wang Dongxiao, et al. 2003. Summer upwelling in the South China Sea and its role in regional climate variations. J Geophys Res, 108(C8):3261, doi: 10.1029/2003JC001867
    Yu Mugeng. 1984. Analysing the characteristics of wave distribution in the South China Sea on the basis of ship reports. Mar Sci Bull (in Chinese), 3(4):1-8
    Zhai Fangguo, Wang Qingye, Wang Fujun, et al. 2014. Variation of the North Equatorial Current, Mindanao Current, and Kuroshio Current in a high-resolution data assimilation during 2008-2012. Adv Atmos Sci, 31(6):1445-1459,, doi: 10.1007/s00376-014-3241-1
    Zhang Jie, Wang Weili, Guan Changlong. 2011. Analysis of the global swell distributions using ECMWF re-analyses wind wave data. J Ocean Univ China, 10(4):325-330
    Zheng Chongwei, Li Chongyin. 2015. Variation of the wave energy and significant wave height in the China Sea and adjacent waters. Renew Sust Energy Rev, 43:381-387
    Zheng Chongwei, Liu Tiejun, Qian Yuehai. 2014. The relationship between sea surface wind field, wave field and El Niño in the China Sea. J Yunnan Univ (in Chinese), 36(2):214-223
    Zheng Chongwei, Zhou Lin. 2012. Wave climate and wave energy analysis of the South China Sea in recent 10 years. Acta Energ Solar Sin (in Chinese), 33(8):1349-1356
    Zhou Liangming, Wu Lunyu, Guo Peifang, et al. 2007. Simulation and study of wave in South China Sea using WAVEWATCH-Ⅲ. J Trop Oceanogr (in Chinese), 26(5):1-8
    Zhu Geli, Lin Wantao, Zhao Sen, et al. 2015. Spatial and temporal variation characteristics of ocean waves in the South China Sea during the boreal winter. Acta Oceanol Sin, 34(1):23-28
    Zong Fangyi, Wu Kejian. 2014. Research on distributions and variations of wave energy in South China Sea based on recent 20 years' wave simulation results using SWAN wave model. Trans Oceanol Limnol (in Chinese),(3):1-12
  • 加载中


    通讯作者: 陈斌,
    • 1. 

      沈阳化工大学材料科学与工程学院 沈阳 110142

    1. 本站搜索
    2. 百度学术搜索
    3. 万方数据库搜索
    4. CNKI搜索

    Article Metrics

    Article views (1307) PDF downloads(751) Cited by()
    Proportional views


    DownLoad:  Full-Size Img  PowerPoint