Amplification of tropical cyclone generated waves by ocean current refraction

by R. Sun, A. B. Villas Bôas, A. C. Subramanian, B. Cornuelle, M. R. Mazloff, A. J. Miller, S. Langodan, I. Hoteit
Preprint Year: 2021 DOI: 10.1002/essoar.10506709.1


Waves generated by tropical cyclones can have devastating effects on coastal regions. However, the role of ocean currents in modifying wave amplitudes, wavelengths, and directions is commonly overlooked in wave forecasts, despite the fact that these interactions can lead to extreme wave conditions. Here, we use satellite observations and wave modeling to quantify the effects of ocean currents on the surface waves generated during a tropical cyclone event in the Arabian Sea. This is the first study documenting coherent beams of wave heights originating from the eyewall of a tropical cyclone caused by current-induced refraction. Alternating regions of high and low wave heights in the model simulations are consistent with observations and extend for thousands of kilometers all the way to the coast. Our results highlight the importance of accounting for wave refraction by currents in order to accurately predict the impact of tropical cyclone generated waves on coastal regions.