The Red Sea: An Arena for Wind-Wave Modeling in Enclosed Seas

  • Sabique Langodan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Wind and waves play a major role in important ocean dynamical processes, such as the exchange of heat, momentum and gases between atmosphere and ocean, that greatly contributes to the earth climate and marine lives. Knowledge on wind and wave weather and climate is crucial for a wide range of applications, including oceanographic studies, maritime activities and ocean engineering. Despite being one of the important world shipping routes, the wind-wave characteristics in the Red Sea are yet to be fully explored. Because of the scarcity of waves data in the Red Sea, numerical models become crucial and provide very powerful tools to extrapolate wind and wave data in space, and backward and forward in time. Unlike open oceans, enclosed basins wave have different characteristics, mainly because of their local generation processes. The complex orography on both sides of the Red Sea makes the local wind, and consequently wave, modeling very challenging. This thesis considers the modeling of wind-wave characteristics in the Red Sea, including their climate variability and trends using state-of-the-art numerical models and all available observations. Different approaches are investigated to model and understand the general and unusual wind and wave conditions in the basin using standard global meteorological products and customised regional wind and wave models. After studying and identifying the main characteristics of the wind-wave variability in the Red Sea, we demonstrate the importance of generating accurate atmospheric forcing through data assimilation for reliable wave simulations. In particular, we show that the state-of-the-art physical formulation of wave models is not suitable to model the unique situation of the two opposing wind-waves systems in the Red Sea Convergence Zone, and propose and successfully test a modification to the input and white-capping source functions to address this problem. We further investigate the climate variability and trends of wind and waves in the Red Sea using high-resolution wind and wave reanalyses that have been generated as part of this thesis. An innovative spectral partition technique is first applied to distinguish the dominant wave systems. Our analysis demonstrates that winds, and consequently waves, exhibit a decreasing trend in the Red Sea. This is mainly attributed to a remarkable weakening of the winds protruding from the Mediterranean Sea. We also use these highresolution reanalyses to assess the potential for harvesting wind and wave energy from the Red Sea.
Date of AwardDec 2016
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorIbrahim Hoteit (Supervisor)


  • the red sea
  • wave modeling
  • enclosed seas
  • WRF
  • Climatology
  • Renewable Energy

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