n Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering = Joernaal van die Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut van Siviele Ingenieurswese - Directional wave spectra on the east coast of South Africa : technical paper

Volume 56, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1021-2019



Directional wave spectra provide detailed information about wave climates some of which can be important for coastal vulnerability assessments and design applications. Spectral data is also important for calibrating and validating spectral wave models that are widely used in coastal engineering. This paper discusses directional spectra derived from measurements on the east coast of South Africa (16-year data set). A variety of spreading functions are applied and compared. The Cosine-2s and Gaussian distributions produce similar results and seem to give an appropriate representation of directional spreading at the case study location. The spectra show some seasonal variations, with the broadest directional spreading in summer and the narrowest (from the southeast) in winter. The winter season also has the highest wave energy of the seasons. The spectral data has no clear evidence of cyclone activity contributing significant northeasterly wave energy as has often been conjectured for this location. The occurrence of wave energies above a threshold that causes significant coastal erosion varies seasonally, and mainly comprises long period swell waves linked to distinct weather systems. The analysis and results reported here provide insights for modelling coastal vulnerability and designing coastal infrastructure.

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