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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 8419580, 9 pages
Research Article

Analysis of the Global Swell and Wind Sea Energy Distribution Using WAVEWATCH III

1Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, 238 Songling Road, Qingdao 266100, China
2Zhejiang Ocean University, Zhoushan 316000, China

Received 21 August 2015; Revised 3 November 2015; Accepted 26 November 2015

Academic Editor: Xiaofeng Li

Copyright © 2016 Kaiwen Zheng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over the past several decades, an increasing number of studies have focused on the global view of swell and wind sea climate. However, our understanding of wind sea and swell is still incomplete as is the lack of an integrated description for all the wave components. In this paper, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Era-medium wind data is used to run the WAVEWATCH III model and the global wave fields in 2010 are reproduced. Using the spectra energy partition (SEP) method, two-dimensional wave spectra were separated and detailed information for the components of wind sea and swell was obtained. We found that the highest seasonal mean energy of swell and wind sea are distributed in the respective winter hemispheres. In most seas, swell carries a large part of the wave energy with being higher than 50%. Compared to swell, the global distribution of wind sea energy is highly affected by the seasons. We also established a link between inverse wave age and the ratio of swell energy to total wave energy. This study aims to improve our understanding of surface wave energy composition and thus the parameterization of global-scale wind-wave interaction and air-sea momentum flux.