Wave Directional Spreading From Point Field Measurements

Mark McAlister, Vengatesan Venugopal, Alistair Borthwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ocean waves have multidirectional components. Most wave measurements are taken at a single point, and so fail to capture information about the relative directions of the wave components directly. Conventional means of directional estimation require a minimum of three concurrent time series of measurements at different spatial locations in order to derive information on local directional wave spreading. Here, the relationship between wave nonlinearity and directionality is utilized to estimate local spreading without the need for multiple concurrent measurements, following Adcock & Taylor (Adcock & Taylor 2009 Proc. R. Soc. A 465, 3361–3381. (doi:10.1098/rspa.2009.0031)), with the assumption that directional spreading is frequency independent. The method is applied to measurements recorded at the North Alwyn platform in the northern North Sea, and the results compared against estimates of wave spreading by conventional measurement methods and hindcast data. Records containing freak waves were excluded. It is found that the method provides accurate estimates of wave spreading over a range of conditions experienced at North Alwyn, despite the noisy chaotic signals that characterize such ocean wave data. The results provide further confirmation that Adcock and Taylor's method is applicable to metocean data and has considerable future promise as a technique to recover estimates of wave spreading from single point wave measurement devices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160781
Number of pages19
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2200
Early online date26 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2017


  • second-order difference
  • in situ wave data
  • surface gravity waves
  • directional spreading estimation
  • point measurement
  • wave motion
  • oceanography
  • ocean engineering


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