Extreme wave height estimation for ocean engineering applications in the Gulf of Mexico
Jeong, Chan Kwon
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Recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico (e.g., Ivan, Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Ike) were observed to develop wave conditions that were near or exceeded the predicted 100-year conditions. As a result, many offshore facilities, as well as coastal infrastructure, which were designed to withstand the 100-year condition, were damaged. New estimates of extreme conditions, which incorporate recently observed maxima, are needed to provide better guidelines for design of coastal and offshore structures. Berek et al. (2007) have used modeled data to develop new criteria, but these estimates can be very sensitive to the data and to the statistical methods used in the development. Berek's estimates also do not cover the entire Gulf of Mexico. We have developed updated estimates of the 100-year extreme wave conditions for the entire Gulf of Mexico using a more comprehensive approach. First, the applicability of standard parametric wind models was examined and appropriate adjustments to the Rankine vortex model were developed to reduce the wind field errors during hurricane conditions. The adjusted winds reduced the error by up to 25 percent compared to the original Rankine vortex model. To obtain reliable wave data, merged wind fields were generated using the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 1 project modeled wind data for background wind and the parametric wind model for hurricane conditions. Next, the SWAN wave model was used for the 51-year period from 1958 to 2008 along with multiple statistical methods (Gumbel, Weibull and GEV-Generalized Extreme Value distribution). The effect of the recent hurricane season (2004-2008) shows that maximum 100-year wave height values and their distribution changes. A resampling technique (bootstrap) is used to evaluate and select the optimum statistical method to estimate more appropriate extreme wave conditions.