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Wave and Orbital Velocity Model Data for the California Continental Shelf

December 29, 2014

The oceanographic processes that disturb the continental shelf include the actions of surface waves, internal waves, and currents (tidal, density, wave-driven, wind-driven, and geostrophic). Because the North Pacific Ocean can generate extremely large surface waves that yield relatively high near-bed wave orbital velocities, wave-generated near-bed currents are often considered to be the dominant mechanism for seabed disturbances along the California coast (Sherwood and others, 1994; Storlazzi and Jaffe, 2002; Storlazzi and others, 2003). In this study, bathymetric data compiled as part of the California Seafloor Mapping Program Project and within the 3-NM limit were supplemented with deeper water bathymetric data (NOAA,, last downloaded April 2013) and used to populate numerical wave grids for simulation of wave growth and propagation across the continental shelf bordering the California coast. Wave computations were done with the widely used and accepted numerical model SWAN (Ris, 1997; Booij and others, 1999; Ris and others, 1999). SWAN is a third-generation spectral model that simulates wind-wave growth, propagation, refraction, dissipation, and depth-induced breaking.