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05.06.2013 15:01 Age: 6 yrs

Strong swell in French Polynesia on June 2013

Category: Ocean and climate news

A strong swell have been observed in French Polynesia causing some damages. Altimetry data and sea state forecasts models have measured these high waves.

Between 31th May and 3rd of June 2013, strong waves hit several polynesian archipels in South Pacific.

Altimetry satellites (here an example with Saral, Jason-1 and Jason-2) have measured the significant waves height by multiple altimeter tracks over all the area, from south and up to -10°S (at Hiva Oa, in the Marquesas Islands, about -138°W, -10°S).

Map of significant wave heigths (in m) measured along-track by IGDR Saral (left) and Jason-1 (right) between May 30 and June 03, 2013 over South Pacific. Ground tracks in red, correspond to higher waves. Pass numbers plotted on each map are those plotted below. See a similar map for Jason-2.Credits Cnes/CLS. Plots made with the Basic Radar Altimetry Toolbox.

By selecting some individuals tracks and by plotting them vs latitude, it appears that Jason-1 (pass #237) and Saral (pass #284) measure a similar SWH. Both passes are separated only by few hours on 2nd of June. Jason-2 pass #017 crossed the area earlier (on 1st of June) by measuring higher significant wave heights (> 9m); around -33.5°S. 


Significant Wave Height vs latitude for individual ground tracks: Saral in blue (pass #284, 2013/06/02); Jason-1 in red (pass #237 2013/06/02) and Jason-2 in green (pass #017, 2013/06/01). Plots made with the Basic Radar Altimetry Toolbox. Credits Cnes/CLS.


Sea state forecast models WFWAM from Meteo France, which assimilate altimetric data in real-time (here Jason-1 and 2), made a good prediction of this event; allowing to publish a wave warning bulletin. 


Swell from Meteo France over Polynesia between 1st of June and 3rd of of June (one frame per 6 hours). Credits Meteo France, Courtesy of L.Aouf.


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