A framework for processing wave buoy measurements in the presence of current

Ajit Pillai, Thomas Davey, Samuel Draycott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Waves and currents interact, with the resulting combination largely determining the loading on offshore structures and devices. Despite this, currents are often ignored and wave buoy data is processed without consideration of the current or the wave-current interaction. This data is subsequently used in design, yet sea state power, steepness, and directionality may have significant errors. Here we present a novel framework for the processing of wave buoy data to account for the effect of a current. We use a mesh adaptive direct search (MADS) algorithm to solve for the current and current-modified wave parameters simultaneously. Through 125 simulated directional wave-current sea states, we demonstrate the performance of the method under a wide range of conditions; including bimodal sea states with non-colinear current. Current speed and direction are estimated accurately for all cases (mean RMSE of 0.1179ms −1 and 0.0091 rad respectively) which enables sea state steepness and power to be estimated within ± 3%. Ignoring this current of ±2ms −1 when deriving these wave parameters results in errors up to 30%. This work demonstrates that it is possible to correctly process wave buoy measurement data to account for, and quantify, a current thus significantly reducing the uncertainty of the ocean conditions. After further validation work, the framework can be widely applied to historic datasets, correcting the wave data and providing an additional dataset of current velocities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102420
JournalApplied Ocean Research
Early online date7 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Directional spectra
  • Mesh Adaptive Direct Search
  • Non-linear Programming
  • Ocean Measurements
  • Wave Buoy Analysis
  • Wave-Current Interactions


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