Research facilitation and management for Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore industry

Waves on Sable Bank and the Grand Banks

Lead PI: Dr. Will Perrie
Subject Category: Other

Start Date: Mar 2002
End Date: Sept 2005
Institution / Organization: DFO

In the past, the primary interest for studying ocean waves came from the need for safe navigation of ships.  However, interest has recently been reinvigorated by growing activity in the oil industry in harsh environments, like offshore Atlantic Canada.  Wave forces on offshore platforms can be large and depend on the size and speed of the waves (kinematics).  In the design of offshore oil rigs, estimates of the kinematics of the largest storm waves is needed to determine the forces that the platform will need to withstand.

Researchers use probability theory to predict and describe ocean waves that are randomly generated by the wind. Extreme (or ‘freak’) waves are substantially bigger than probable average waves and are created in a number of ways, including the random focusing of wave frequencies and angles, and are likely to be breaking if the overall sea state is high.

A project led by Dr. Will Perrie of Dalhousie University and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography was aimed at understanding ocean waves in our offshore areas. Environment Canada and two Atlantic Canada companies (Seimac and MARTEC) worked with Dr. Perrie to develop wave forecast computer models for predicting ocean wave conditions where offshore rigs and platforms are at work. The results of this work have been used to improve safety by predicting storm conditions on the Scotian Shelf and the Grand Banks of Newfoundland; the importance of which was highlighted by the “Storm of the Century” in 1993 that generated 30m high waves.


  • Final Report [PDF]

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