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Journal of Sensors
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 728936, 18 pages
Research Article

Wave Observations from Central California: SeaSonde Systems and In Situ Wave Buoys

1CODAR Ocean Sensors Ltd., 1914 Plymouth St, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA
2Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
3Romberg Tiburon Center, San Francisco State University, Tiburon, CA 94132, USA

Received 28 May 2011; Revised 28 October 2011; Accepted 28 October 2011

Academic Editor: Andrea Cusano

Copyright © 2011 Regan M. Long 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.


Wave data from five 12-13 MHz SeaSondes radars along the central California coast were analyzed to evaluate the utility of operational wave parameters, including significant wave height, period, and direction. Data from four in situ wave buoys served to verify SeaSonde data and independently corroborate wave variability. Hourly averaged measurements spanned distance is 150 km alongshore × 45 km offshore. Individual SeaSondes showed statistically insignificant variation over 27 km in range. Wave height inter-comparisons between regional buoys exhibit strong correlations, approximately 0.93, and RMS differences less than 50 cm over the region. SeaSonde-derived wave data were compared to nearby buoys over timescales from 15 to 26 months, and revealed wave height correlations 𝑅 = 0 . 8 5 0 . 9 1 and mean RMS difference of 53 cm. Results showed that height RMS differences are a percentage of significant wave height, rather than being constant independent of sea state. Period and directions compared favorably among radars, buoys, and the CDIP model. Results presented here suggest that SeaSondes are a reliable source of wave information. Supported by buoy data, they also reveal minimal spatial variation in significant wave height, period, and direction in coastal waters from ~45 km × ~150 km in this region of the central California coast. Small differences are explained by sheltering from coastal promontories, and cutoff boundaries in the case of the radars.