Estimation of sea state parameters by the wave buoy analogy with comparisons to third generation spectral wave models

Ulrik D. Nielsen*, Jesper Dietz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper presents a study focused on sea state estimation along the route of an in-service container ship. The paper is concerned with the wave buoy analogy in which wave-induced motions of the ship are processed and analysed together with corresponding motion transfer function to give the directional wave spectrum exactly at the point of operation. In this study, a simple and inexpensive instrumentation of the vessel is considered, and wave spectrum estimation is based on measurements from one motion response unit mounted close to the forward perpendicular of the ship. The estimates by the wave buoy analogy are compared with two sets of results from third generation spectral wave models, with one set provided by a commercial supplier and with another set obtained from the Copernicus Climate Change Service Information. Motion measurements from a seven-days voyage across the Pacific Ocean are studied, and it is shown that the wave buoy analogy estimates wave conditions, in terms of sea state parameters, in good agreement with the reports by the sets of ocean wave hindcasts. Along with the comparisons, the paper discusses some of the inherent drawbacks of the wave buoy analogy, notably the fact that a ship acts as a low-pass filter.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107781
JournalOcean Engineering
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Wave spectrum estimation
  • Ship motions
  • Wave buoy analogy
  • In-service data
  • Spectral wave models
  • Copernicus climate change service information
  • (ERA5)

Cite this