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GCOS Ocean Physics ECV - Sea State

Waves are generated by ocean surface vector stress, and evolve from wind waves to swell when the stress has insufficient magnitude to support the waves. Wave characteristics can also be modified by bathymetry when the depth of the water is sufficiently small compared to the wavelength, or by surface currents, which appear to play a large role in the formation of rogue waves. Sea state is best known for its impacts on marine safety, marine transport and damage to structures. However, waves also affect the growth or decay of sea ice, beach erosion, surface albedo, gas transfer, transport of larvae and contaminants such as oil, and air–sea exchange of energy, moisture and momentum. They thereby play large roles in the global cycles of energy, water and carbon.

Product Requirements:

  • Wave Height:

    • Frequency:  3 hourly
    • Resolution:  25 km
    • Required Measurement uncertainty:  10 cm
    • Stability (per decade unless otherwise specified:  5 cm
    • Standards/References:  See EOV specification sheets at www.ioc-goos-oopc/obs/ecv.php
    • Entity (Satellite):  WGClimate
    • Entity (in situ):  JCOMM


Data Sources: