An experimental assessment of the effect of current on wave buoy measurements

Samuel Draycott, A.C. Pillai, R. Gabl, P. K. Stansby, T. Davey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wave measurement buoys provide characterisation of wave climates that forms the basis for the design of offshore systems. These buoys are commonly subjected to currents which affect the resulting wave measurements, and if not accounted for will result in errors in the estimated sea state parameters. The present work provides results and observations from experiments aimed
at assessing the impact that currents have on wave buoy measurements, thereby informing processing techniques to more accurately include this effect. Through scaled testing (circa 1:15) in a combined wave-current test tank, buoy motions (diameter, D = 0.24 m) are recorded in current only, waves only, and combined wave-current including oblique conditions. From these, the
wave-induced motions are extracted and compared against three prediction methods based on established transfer function approaches as well as a frequency-domain hydrodynamic coefficient (HC) model based on potential flow. The scaled buoy was observed to have large, complex, irregular oscillatory vortex-induced motions (VIM) exceeding the buoy diameter. Both the magnitude
and frequency of these oscillations was found to be significantly altered by the mooring stiffness and configuration whilst the addition of collinear waves was found not to affect the magnitude of VIM. Furthermore, due to the lack of VIM heave response and a large difference between the frequencies of the vortex-induced and wave induced horizontal motions, it was found that the VIM did not significantly alter the interpretation of the wave climate for the tested conditions. The HC model was found to accurately capture the observed modified hydrodynamics for opposing wave-current conditions, where larger horizontal motions than (typically) predicted are observed for all frequencies. This behaviour is concluded to result from increased excitation forces owing to the higher wavenumbers. The experiments highlight the potential effects of VIM on wave measurement performance of wave buoys, along with the complex and mooring-dependent nature of the response. Altered dynamics in the presence of currents are described which must be accounted for to avoid errors and the presented prediction methods provide a mechanism to account for these effects in wave processing methodologies which can subsequently reduce uncertainty in
our understanding of the offshore environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCoastal Engineering
Early online date25 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022


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