Assimilation of radar altimeter data in numerical wave models: an impact study in two different wave climate regions
Abstract. An operational assimilation system incorporating significant wave height observations in high resolution numerical wave models is studied and evaluated. In particular, altimeter satellite data provided by the European Space Agency (ESA-ENVISAT) are assimilated in the wave model WAM which operates in two different wave climate areas: the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. The first is a wind-sea dominated area while in the second, swell is the principal part of the sea state, a fact that seriously affects the performance of the assimilation scheme. A detailed study of the different impact is presented and the resulting forecasts are evaluated against available buoy and satellite observations. The corresponding results show a considerable improvement in wave forecasting for the Indian Ocean while in the Mediterranean Sea the assimilation impact is restricted to isolated areas.