The importance of wind forcing in fjord wave modelling
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Geophysical Institute 
Accurate predictions of surface ocean waves in coastal areas are important for a number of marine activities. In complex coastlines with islands and fjords, the quality of wind forcing significantly affects the results. We investigate the role of wind forcing on wave conditions in a fjord system partly exposed to open sea. For this reason, we implemented the wave model SWAN at the west coast of Norway using four different wind forcing. Wind and wave estimates were compared with observations from five measurement sites. The best results in terms of significant wave height are found at the sites exposed to offshore conditions using a wind input that is biased slightly high compared with the buoy observations. Positively biased wind input, on the other hand, leads to significant overestimation of significant wave height in more sheltered locations. The model also shows a poorer performance for mean wave period in these locations. Statistical results are supported by two case studies which also illustrate the effect of high spatial resolution in wind forcing. Detailed wind forcing is necessary in order to obtain a realistic wind field in complex fjord terrain, but wind channelling and lee effects may have unpredictable effects on the wave simulations. Pure wave propagation (no wind forcing) is not able to reproduce the highest significant wave height in any of the locations.