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Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences
ISSN 1736-7557 (Electronic)
ISSN 1736-4728 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.789

Spatial variations in the Caspian Sea wave climate in 2002–2013 from satellite altimetry; pp. 225–240

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Nadezhda Kudryavtseva, Kuanysh Kussembayeva, Zaure B. Rakisheva, Tarmo Soomere


The core properties of the wave climate and its changes in the Caspian Sea are established in terms of the annual mean significant wave height and its regional changes in 2002–2013 based on the outcome of the satellite altimetry mission JASON-1. Remotely estimated wave heights are validated against properties of the empirical distribution of instrumentally measured wave heights in the southern Caspian Sea and monthly averages of visually observed wave heights at three locations. A correction for systematic differences leads to very good correspondence between monthly averaged in situ and satellite data with a typical root mean square difference of 0.06 m.
The average significant wave height in the Caspian Sea is 0.5–0.7 m in the northern basin of the sea, around 1.2 m in large parts of the central and southern basins and reaches up to 1.8 m in the northern segment of the central basin. The basin-wide average wave intensity varied insignificantly in the range of 1.02–1.14 m in 2002–2013. These estimates overestimate the wave heights by about 30% because low wave conditions are ignored. Substantial and statistically significant changes in the wave height occurred in certain areas. The wave height decreased by 0.019 ± 0.007 m/yr in the eastern segment of the central basin and by 0.04 ± 0.04 m/yr in the western segment of the southern basin. These changes can be explained by an increase in the frequency of westerly winds at the expence of southerly winds. Both basin-wide and regional extreme wave heights exhibit large interannual variations but do not show any significant trend. The patterns of changes in mean and extreme wave height are different. The average wave height has increased while the extreme wave height has decreased in the eastern segment of the southern basin.


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