Journal of Oceanography, Vol. 55 (No. 5), pp. 575-584, 1999
Center for Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, Aoba, Sendai 980-8578, Japan
(Received 14 January 1999; in revised form 15 March 1999; accepted 19 March 1999)
Abstract: By using wind vector fields observed by the NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT) and significant wave heights observed by the TOPEX/POSEIDON and European Remote Sensing Satellite-2 (ERS-2) altimeters, one-dimensional fetch growth of wind waves has been investigated under conditions of strong wind and high waves caused by the East Asian winter monsoon in the Sea of Japan. The evolution of fetch-limited wind waves can be observed by the altimeters along their ground tracks. The fetch is estimated by using vector wind fields observed by NSCAT. The derived growth characteristics of wind waves are compared with empirical relationships between the non-dimensional fetch and significant wave height proposed by previous studies. Good agreement is discernible with Toba's fetch graph formula normalized by the friction velocity, while Wilson's well-known formula normalized by the wind speed at a height of 10 m tends to underestimate the wave height under such severe conditions of high wind and very long fetch. This discrepancy is explained by the wind-speed dependence of the drag coefficient. A simple correction to Wilson's formula for the high wind conditions is proposed and compared with the observed data.