Global extreme wave estimates and their sensitivity to the analysed data period and data sources

Khalid Amarouche, Adem Akpinar, Bahareh Kamranzad, Ghollame-Ellah-Yacine Khames

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the absence of wave measuring buoys operating over extended periods, wave hindcast data or satellite observations are indispensable for estimating global extreme wave heights. However, the results may depend on the analysed wind wave sources and the period's length. The sensitivity of the estimated extreme significant wave heights (SWH) to the analysed data sources and periods is investigated in this study. Global extreme wave heights are estimated using ECMWF Reanalysis v5 data (ERA5), global wave hindcast developed based on Simulating WAves Nearshore forced by the Japanese 55-year Reanalysis (SWAN-JRA55), satellite altimeter observations, and long-term wave buoy measurements. Both Annual Maximum fitting to the Generalized Extreme Value Distribution (AM-GEV) and Peaks Over Threshold fitted to the Generalized Pareto Distribution (POT-GPD) models are used. The results show that the global extreme SWH estimates considerably depend on the analysed data sources. The relative differences observed between the analysed data sources are >20% in large parts of the world. Thus, the relative differences in extreme SWH are mainly lower by increasing the analysed data periods. However, they can reach 30% and are more critical using AM-GEV. Besides, by comparing the extreme values from reanalysis and hindcast wave data to those from long-term wave measurements, underestimations of up to 2 m are observed for a return period of 100 years in the North-West Atlantic and North-East Pacific.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103494
JournalMarine Structures
Early online date13 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023


  • wave measurement
  • wave height forecasting
  • fatigue assessment


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