Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 27 Issue 03

View Issue TOC
Volume 27, No. 3
Pages 56 - 67


US Navy Global and Regional Wave Modeling

W. Erick Rogers James D. DykesPaul A. Wittmann
Article Abstract

This article reviews the prediction of wind-generated surface gravity waves over the world ocean by the US Navy. The numerical wave model WAVEWATCH III® is used operationally for this purpose at the two primary Navy operational centers, the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center and the Naval Oceanographic Office. This model is briefly described, and an overview is given of the current operational and near-operational features of global- and regional-scale wave models at the two centers. Planned features are summarized.


Rogers, W.E., J.D. Dykes, and P.A. Wittmann. 2014. US Navy global and regional wave modeling. Oceanography 27(3):56–67, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2014.68.


AIP. 1986. Interview of W. Munk by F. Aeserud on June 30, 1986. Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA, http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/4790.html.

Allard, R., E. Rogers, P. Martin, T. Jensen, P. Chu, T. Campbell, J. Dykes, T. Smith, J. Choi, and U. Gravois. 2014. The US Navy coupled ocean-wave prediction system. Oceanography 27(3):92–103, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2014.71.

Alves, J.-H.G.M., P. Wittmann, M. Sestak, J. Schauer, S. Stripling, N.B. Bernier, J. McLean, Y. Chao, A. Chawla, H. Tolman, and others. 2013. The NCEP/FNMOC Combined Wave Ensemble Product: Expanding benefits of inter-agency probabilistic forecasts to the oceanic environment. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 94:1,893–1,905, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00032.1.

Ardhuin, F., E. Rogers, A.V. Babanin, J.-F. Filipot, R. Magne, A. Roland, A. van der Westhuysen, P. Queffeulou, J.-M. Lefevre, L. Aouf, and F. Collard. 2010. Semiempirical dissipation source functions for ocean waves. Part I: Definition, calibration, and validation. Journal of Physical Oceanography 40:1,917–1,941, https://doi.org/10.1175/2010JPO4324.1.

Bidlot, J.-R. 2012. Present status of wave forecasting at ECMWF. Paper presented at the ECMWF Workshop on Ocean Waves, June 25–27, 2012. European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, United Kingdom.

Booij, N., R.C. Ris, and L.H. Holthuijsen. 1999. A third-generation wave model for coastal regions: Part 1. Model description and validation. Journal of Geophysical Research 104(C4):7,649–7,666, https://doi.org/10.1029/98JC02622.

Cavaleri, L., J.-H.G.M. Alves, F. Ardhuin, A. Babanin, M. Banner, K. Belibassakis, M. Benoit, M. Donelan, J. Groeneweg, T.H.C. Herbers, and others. 2007. Wave modelling: The state of the art. Progress in Oceanography 75:603–674, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2007.05.005.

Clancy, R.M., J.E. Kaitala, and L.F. Zambresky. 1986. The Fleet Numerical Oceanography Center Global Spectral Ocean Wave Model. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 67:498–512, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0477(1986)067<0498:TFNOCG>2.0.CO;2.

Durrant, T.H., D.J.M. Greenslade, and I. Simmonds. 2013. The effect of statistical wind corrections on global wave forecasts. Ocean Modelling 70:116–131, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocemod.2012.10.006.

Geiszler, D.A., J. Kent, J.L.S. Strahl, J. Cook, G. Love, L. Phegley, J. Schmidt, Q. Zhao, F. Franco, L. Frost, and others. 2004. The Navy’s on-scene weather prediction system. Paper presented at COAMPS-OS, 20th Conference on Weather Analysis and Forecasting/16th Conference on Numerical Weather Prediction. American Meteorological Society.

Gelci, R., H. Cazale, and J. Vassal. 1956. Utilisation des diagrammes de propagation a la prevision energetique de la houle. Bulletin d’information du Comite d’Oceanographie et d’Etude des Cotes 8(4):160–197.

Hasselmann, K. 1960. Grundgleichungen der Seegangsvoraussage. Schiffstechnik 7(39):191–195.

Hodur, R.M. 1997. The Naval Research Laboratory’s Coupled Ocean/Atmospheric Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS). Monthly Weather Review 125:1,414–1,430, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(1997)125<1414:TNRLSC>2.0.CO;2.

Hogan, T.F., M. Liu, J.A. Ridout, M.S. Peng, T.R. Whitcomb, B.C. Ruston, C.A. Reynolds, S.D. Eckermann, J.R. Moskaitis, N.L. Baker, and others. 2014. The Navy Global Environmental Model. Oceanography 27(3):116–125, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2014.73.

Hubert, W.E. 1957. A preliminary report on numerical sea condition forecasts. Monthly Weather Review 85:200–204, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(1957)085<0200:APRONS>2.0.CO;2.

Jensen, R.E., P.A. Wittmann, and J.D. Dykes. 2002. Global and regional wave modeling activities. Oceanography 15(1):57–66, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2002.36.

Kinsman, B. 1984. Wind Waves: Their Generation and Propagation on the Ocean Surface. Dover, 676 pp.

Komen, G.J., L. Cavaleri, M. Donelan, K. Hasselmann, S. Hasselmann, and P.A.E.M. Janssen. 1994. Dynamics and Modelling of Ocean Waves. Cambridge University Press, 532 pp.

Munk, W., and D. Day. 2002. Harald U. Sverdrup and the war years. Oceanography 15(4):7–29, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2002.02.

O’Reilly, W.C., and R.T. Guza. 1993. A comparison of two spectral wave models in the Southern California Bight. Coastal Engineering 19:263–282, https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-3839(93)90032-4.

Rogers, W.E. 2002. The US Navy’s Global Wind-Wave Models: An Investigation into Sources of Error in Low Frequency Energy Predictions. NRL Formal Report 7320-02-10035, 63 pp., http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/pubs/2002/rogers_FR2002.pdf.

Rogers, W.E., P.A. Wittmann, D.W. Wang, R.M. Clancy, and Y.L. Hsu. 2005. Evaluations of global wave prediction at the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center. Weather Forecasting 20:745–760, https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF882.1.

Rogers, W.E., J.D. Dykes, D. Wang, S.N. Carroll, and K. Watson. 2012. Validation Test Report for WAVEWATCH III. NRL Memorandum Report 7320-12-9425, 75 pp.

Sampson, C.R., P.A. Wittmann, and H.L. Tolman. 2010. Consistent tropical cyclone wind and wave forecasts for the US Navy. Weather Forecasting 25:1,293–1,306, https://doi.org/10.1175/2010WAF2222376.1.

Smith, S., J.A. Cummings, C. Rowley, P. Chu, J. Shriver, R. Helber, P. Spence, S. Carroll, O.M. Smedstad, and B. Lunde. 2011. Validation Test Report for the Navy Coupled Ocean Data Assimilation 3D Variational Analysis (NCODA-VAR) System, Version 3.43. NRL Report NRL/MR/7320-11-9363, Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, MS, 135 pp.

Su, M.-Y., and C.L. Vincent. 1996. Developing a Joint Army/Navy Coastal Wave Prediction Program. Naval Research Laboratory Memorandum Report NRL/MR/7330-95-7686, 97 pp.

Tolman, H.L. 1991. A third-generation model for wind-waves on slowly varying, unsteady, and inhomogeneous depths and currents. Journal of Physical Oceanography 21:782–797, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(1991)021<0782:ATGMFW>2.0.CO;2.

Tolman, H.L. 2003. Treatment of unresolved islands and ice in wind wave models. Ocean Modelling 5:219–231, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1463-5003(02)00040-9.

Tolman, H.L. 2008. A mosaic approach to wind wave modeling. Ocean Modelling 25:35–47, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocemod.2008.06.005.

Tolman, H.L., and the WAVEWATCH III® Development Group. 2014. User Manual and System Documentation of WAVEWATCH III® version 4.18. Technical Note 316, NOAA/NWS/NCEP/MMAB, 282 pp. + Appendices.

Tolman, H.L., B. Balasubramaniyan, L.D. Burroughs, D.V. Chalikov, Y.Y. Chao, H.S. Chen, and V.M. Gerald. 2002. Development and implementation of wind-generated ocean surface wave models at NCEP. Weather and Forecasting (NCEP Notes) 17:311–333, http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/mmab/papers/tn208/OMB208.pdf.

Tolman, H.L., M.L. Banner, and J.M. Kaihatu. 2013. The NOPP operational wave model improvement project. Ocean Modelling 70:2–10, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocemod.2012.11.011.

WAMDI Group. 1988. The WAM model: A third generation ocean wave prediction model. Journal of Physical Oceanography 18:1,775–1,810, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0485(1988)018<1775:TWMTGO>2.0.CO;2.

Wingeart, K.M., T.H.C. Herbers, W.C. O’Reilly, P.A. Wittmann, R.E. Jensen, and H.L. Tolman. 2001. Validation of operational global wave prediction models with spectral buoy data. Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium; Ocean Wave Measurement and Analysis (“WAVES 2001”). San Francisco, CA, ASCE, 590–599, https://doi.org/10.1061/40604(273)61.

Wittmann, P.A. 2002. Implementation of WaveWatch III at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center. Pp. 1,474–1,479 in vol. 3 of OCEANS, 2001: MTS/IEEE Conference and Exposition, https://doi.org/10.1109/OCEANS.2001.968051.

Wittmann, P.A., and R.M. Clancy. 1993. Implementation and validation of a global third-generation wave model at Fleet Numerical Oceanography Center. Pp. 406–419 in Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Ocean Wave Measurement and Analysis, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Wittmann, P.A., and M. Clancy. 2004. Thirty years of operational ocean wave forecasting at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center. Paper presented at the Symposium on the 50th Anniversary of Operational Numerical Weather Prediction, June 14–17, 2004, University of Maryland, 6 pp.

Wittmann, P.A., and J.A. Cummings. 2004. Assimilation of altimeter wave measurements into WAVEWATCH III. Paper presented at the 8th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, November 14–19, 2004.

Wittmann, P.A., R.M. Clancy, and T. Mettlach. 1995. Operational wave forecasting at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center. Pp. 335–342 in Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting. Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Zieger, S., A.V. Babanin, W.E. Rogers, and I.R. Young. 2011. Observation-based dissipation and input terms for WAVEWATCH IIITM: Implementation and simple simulations. Proceedings of the 12th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting. Kohala Coast, HI, October 30–November 4, JCOMM Technical Report No. 67, 12 pp., http://www.jcomm.info/images/stories/2011/12thWaves/Papers/ziegeretal_2011.pdf.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.