Geophysical Research Letters

Variability of extreme wave heights in the northeast Pacific Ocean based on buoy measurements

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Abstract

[1] Recent studies reveal important trends in mean values and high percentiles of significant wave height in the northeast Pacific. However, changes of the extreme wave heights through time have not received much attention. In this work, the long-term variability of extreme significant wave height along the northeast Pacific is modeled using a time-dependent extreme value model. Application of the model to significant wave height data sets from 26 buoys over the period 1985–2007 shows significant positive long-term trends in extreme wave height between 30–45°N near the western coast of the US averaging 2.35 cm/yr. We also demonstrate an impact of El Niño on extreme wave heights (about 25 cm per unit of NINO3.4 index) in the northeast Pacific as well as important correlations with mid-latitudinal climate patterns (e.g., NP and PNA indices).

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