Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Storm waves in the Canadian Atlantic: A numerical simulation

  • 43 Accesses

  • 3 Citations


The Grand Banks and the Scotian Shelf regions of the Canadian Atlantic often experience strong winds and high waves associated with the passage of intense storms during the winter months of December to March. These storm waves are identified as a major hazard to shipping, offshore exploration and other marine activities in eastern Canada.

In this study, an operational spectral ocean wave model has been used to simulate sea-states associated with selected storm events in the Canadian Atlantic. The wave model operates on a grid (with grid spacing of about 111 km) which covers a major portion of the north Atlantic. A nested fine grid (with grid spacing of about 37 km) has been designed which covers the shelf regions of the Canadian Atlantic. The model employs deep-water physics over the coarse grid while over the fine grid shallow-water processes as represented by wave refraction, wave shoaling, bottom friction and wave number scaling are included. The wave model also includes, as an optional package, the third-generation source terms as represented by the nonlinear wave-wave interaction terms.

For two selected storm events, the model generated sea-states are evaluated against available buoy data as well as against hand analyzed operational wave height charts over the northwest Atlantic. The evaluation shows that the various versions of the model can simulate the observed sea-states, reasonably well. The utility of the wave model in providing numerical guidance for offshore activities is briefly discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Canadian Climate Centre: 1991, Wind/wave hindcast extreme for the east coast of Canada, Vol. I. Prepared under contract No. KM169-7-6678 by MacLaren Plansearch Ltd. and Oceanweather Inc.

  2. Cardone, V. J.: 1978, Specification and prediction of the vector wind on the United States continental shelf for application to an oil trajectory forecast program, Final Report, Techniques Development Laboratory, NOAA, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.

  3. Cardone, V. J.: 1992, On the structure of marine surface wind field in extratropical storms.Preprints, Third International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting, 19–22 May 1992, Montreal; Environment Canada, Downsview, Ontario, pp. 54–66

  4. Cardone, V. J., Pierson, W. J., and Ward, E. G.: 1976, Hindcasting the directional spectra of hurricane generated winds,J. Petrol. Technol. 28, 385–394.

  5. Grant, W. D. and Madsen, O. S.: 1982, Movable bed roughness in unsteady oscillatory flow,J. Geophys. Res. 87, C1, 469–481.

  6. Khandekar, M. L.: 1989,Operational Analysis and Prediction of Ocean Wind Waves, Coastal and Estuarine Studies, No. 33, Springer-Verlag, New York.

  7. Khandekar, M. L. and Lalbeharry, R.: 1990, A forecaster's guide to the Canadian spectral ocean wave model, Report No. ARD-90-007, Atmospheric Research Directorate, Environment Canada, Downsview, Ontario, September 1990.

  8. Large, W. G. and Pond, S.: 1981, Open ocean flux measurements in moderate to strong winds,J. Phys. Oceanogr. 11, 324–336.

  9. Lewis, P. J. and Moran, M. D.: 1984, Severe storms off Canada's east coast: A catalogue summary for the period 1957 to 1983. Report No. 84-13, Canadian Climate Centre, Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, Ontario: prepared under contract No. OSE83-00334 by Concord Scientific Corporation.

  10. MacLaren Plansearch Ltd.: 1985, Evaluation of the spectral ocean wave model (CSOWM) for supporting real-time wave forecasting in the Canadian east coast offshore, Report prepared for Atmospheric Environment Service, Downsview, Ontario, MacLaren Plansearch Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1985, 270 pp.

  11. Miles, J. W.: 1957, On the generation of surface waves by shear flows,J. Fluid Mech. 3, 185–204.

  12. Pierson, W. J. and Moskowitz, L.: 1964, A proposed spectral form for fully developed seas based on the similarity theory of S. A. Kitiagorodskii.J. Geophys. Res. 69, 5181–5191.

  13. Phillips, O. M.: 1957, On the generation of waves by turbulent wind,J. Fluid Mech. 2, 417–445.

  14. Tanguay, M., Simard, A., and Staniforth, A.: 1989, A three-dimensional semi-Lagarangian scheme for the Canadian regional finite-element forecast model,Monthly Weather Rev. 117, 1861–1871.

  15. The WAMDI Group: 1988, The WAM model: A third generation ocean wave prediction model,J. Phys. Oceanogr. 18, 1775–1810.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Khandekar, M.L. Storm waves in the Canadian Atlantic: A numerical simulation. Nat Hazards 9, 125–153 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00662595

Download citation

Key words

  • Storm waves
  • Canadian Atlantic
  • numerical simulation