Wave climatology in coastal Maine for aquaculture and other applications

Vijay G. Panchang, Chankwon Jeong, Dongcheng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Wind waves represent a significant hydrodynamic factor affecting many oceanographic studies such as sediment transport, design of structures, etc. In coastal Maine, wave information is needed, among other applications, for aquaculture-related activities. As few data sources exist, a question that confronts scientists pertains to the magnitudes of typical and extreme wave conditions at various times. To address this, numerical modeling was performed for a period of six and a half years (7/99-12/05) on a continuous basis by coupling National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's outer ocean predictions to two coastal, high-resolution, regional domain grids encompassing the Penobscot Bay and Machias Bay regions where aquaculture activity is prevalent and expanding. As the modeling involves uncertainties because of bathymetric and wind field representations, their effect on the results was explored. It was found that although the uncertainties could create inaccuracies in real-time forecasts, their effect on the development of climatogies was minimal. Average modeled significant wave heights are found to vary between 0.6 and 1.5 m in the sub-domains. The maximum conditions are of the order of 6.5 m in the outer parts of the sub-domains and occurred in September and December. Estimated wave-induced bottom velocities were found in many areas to be in excess of the published estimates of resuspension thresholds for net-pen wastes. Estimates of "extreme" wave conditions, corresponding to a recurrence interval of 30 years (representing the nominal design life of the cage), were found to vary between 2 and 7 m in the modeled areas. Detailed contour maps have been developed for site-specific characterization of the wave climate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008



  • Hindcasting
  • Maine
  • Models
  • SWAN
  • Wave climate
  • Wave statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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