Table of Contents
International Journal of Oceanography
Volume 2012, Article ID 306723, 8 pages
Research Article

Swell and Wind-Sea Distributions over the Mid-Latitude and Tropical North Atlantic for the Period 2002–2008

1Divisão de Sensoriamento Remoto, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), CP 515 12227-010 São José dos Campos SP, Brazil
2Laboratoire d’Océanographie Spatiale, Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER), 70 29280 Plouzané, France

Received 29 November 2011; Revised 28 December 2011; Accepted 19 January 2012

Academic Editor: Swadhin Behera

Copyright © 2012 Eduardo G. G. de Farias 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.


We present an analysis of wind-sea and swell fields for mid-latitude and tropical Atlantic for the period 2002–2008 using a combination of satellite data (altimeter significant wave height and scatterometer surface winds) and model results (spectrum peak wave period and propagation direction). Results show a dominance of swell over wind-sea regimes throughout the year. A small but clear decrease in swell energy and an associated increase in wind-sea potential growth were observed in the NE trade winds zone. A seasonal summertime increase in wind-sea energy in the Amazon River mouth and adjacent shelf region and in African coast was apparent in the results, probably associated to a strengthening of the alongshore trade winds in these regions. Albeit with a significantly smaller energy contribution of wind-seas as compared to swell energy, we could say that a kind of mixed seas is more evident in the trade winds region, with the remaining area being highly dominated by swell energy. An analysis of wave-age shows the absence of young-seas. Only ~2% of all data points was classified as wind-sea, a classification confirmed by a fit to a theoretical relation between wind speed, peak period, and significant wave height for fully developed wind-seas.