A modelling-based assessment of the imprint of storms on wind waves in the western Mediterranean Sea

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Abstract

This study analyses the distribution of ocean wind waves in response to extratropi- cal cyclones over the western Mediterranean Sea. To this end we use an ERA40-based database of atmospheric cyclones and a 3-hourly wind wave hind- cast with high horizontal resolution (1/6  ) based on an ERA40 downscaled forcing for the region of study. The imprint of winds on surface waves is evaluated through composites of modelled significant wave height, surface wind and wave peak period collocated under the storms. Results highlight an asymmetric pattern that depends on the translational speed and size of the cyclonic perturbations. Uncer- tainties of the composites are at most 10% at 95% confidence interval, with an aver- age maximum perturbation of significant wave height near 2 m for those cyclones moving faster than 10 m/s