Investigating High-Resolution Spatial Wave Patterns on the Canadian Beaufort Shelf Using Synthetic Aperture Radar Imagery at Herschel Island, Qikiqtaruk, Yukon, Canada

The Arctic is experiencing the greatest increase in air temperature on Earth. This significant climatic change is leading to a significant positive trend of increasing wave heights and greater coastal erosion. This in turn effects local economies and ecosystems. Increasing wave energy is one of the main drivers of this alarming trend. However, the data on spatial and temporal patterns of wave heights in the Arctic are either coarse, interpolated or limited to point measurements. The aim of this study is to overcome this shortcoming by using remote sensing data. In this study, the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite TerraSAR-X (TS-X) and TanDEM-X (TD-X) imagery are used to obtain sea state information with a high spatial resolution in Arctic nearshore waters in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. From the entire archive of the TS-X/TD-X StripMap mode with coverage around 30 km × 50 km acquired between 2009 and 2020 around Herschel Island, Qikiqtaruk (HIQ), all the ice-free scenes were processed. The resulting dataset of 175 collocated scenes was used to map the significant wave height (Hs) and to link spatial and temporal patterns to local coastal processes. Sea state parameters are estimated in raster format with a 600 m step using the empirical algorithm CWAVE_EX. The statistics of the Hs were aggregated according to spatial variability, seasonality and wind conditions. The results show that the spatial wave climate is clearly related to the dominant wind regime and seasonality. For instance, the aggregation of all the scenes recorded in July between 2009 and 2020 results in an average of 0.82 m Hs while in October the average Hs is almost 0.40 m higher. The analysis by wind direction shows that fetch length and wind speed are likely the most important variables influencing the spatial variability. A larger fetch under NW conditions results in a mean wave height of 0.92 m, while waves generated under ESE conditions are lower at 0.81 m on average.


Use and reproduction:

CC BY 4.0

Please note that individual components of the publication may be subject to other licensing or copyright conditions.


Citation style:
Could not load citation form.