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CEOS EO HANDBOOK – MEASUREMENTS
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Ocean wave height and spectrum


Sea state and wind speed govern air-sea fluxes of momentum, heat, water vapour and gas transfer. The state of the sea and surface pressure are two features of the weather that are important to commercial use of the sea (e.g. ship routing, warnings of hazards to shipping, marine construction, off-shore drilling installations and fisheries). Information on surge height at the coast is key to the protection of life and property in coastal habitats.
Detailed MeasurementDescription*InstrumentsTimeline
Dominant wave directionOne feature of the ocean wave spectrum. It is the direction of the most energetic wave in the spectrum - Physical unit: [ degrees ] - Accuracy unit: [ degrees ].2 instruments
Dominant wave periodOne feature of the ocean wave spectrum. It is the period of the most energetic wave in the spectrum - Physical unit: [ s ] - Accuracy unit: [ s ].2 instruments
Sea state wavelength-0 instruments
Significant wave heightAverage amplitude of the highest 30 of 100 waves - Physical unit: [ m ] - Accuracy unit: [ m ].10 instruments
Wave directional energy frequency spectrum2-D parameter colloquially referred to as “wave spectrum”. Describes the wave energy travelling in each direction and frequency band (e.g., 24 distinct azimuth sectors each 15° wide, and 25 frequency bands) - Physical unit: [ m2×Hz-1×rad-1 ] - Accuracy unit: [ m2×Hz-1×rad-1 ].1 instrument
* Description adapted from WMO.
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