SAWS Upgrades SA Wave Model

Posted on 12 March 2021

SAWS is pleased to announce upgrades to our high resolution regional and coastal wave forecast system.

The SAWS Wave and Storm Surge (SWaSS) forecast system uses certain input data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States of America.

Following upgrades to elements of NOAA's global wave forecast model, now called GFS-Wave, SAWS is pleased to announce associated upgrades to the SWaSS regional and high resolution wave forecasts for South Africa. Among other technical changes, GFS-Wave benefits from improved model physics, an upgraded global grid system and the inclusion of wave-current interaction processes in its wave forecasts. GFS-Wave also provides data with twice the spatial resolution of its predecessor, meaning that input data to SWaSS is now twice as detailed spatially.

SAWS Marine Scientist Michael Barnes, who led the implementation of changes for the SWaSS system, said "Essentially the input data to our wave forecast system are now of a higher quality - both in terms of the physics at work behind the scenes, as well as the fidelity with which they're fed to our systems. We are hoping that this translates to higher forecast accuracy around the South African coastline. We will be monitoring the system to see what impact it has on our routine wave forecasting operations."

Whilst the input data to SWaSS have thus changed slightly, SAWS Marine forecast outputs remain unchanged, with our range of high resolution wave forecast information freely available to the South African public here.