The Wave Crest Sensor Intercomparison Study (WACSIS) was designed as a thorough investigation of the statistical distribution of crest heights. Measurements were made in the southern North Sea during the winter of 1997–1998 from the Meetpost Noordwijk in 18 m water depth. The platform was outfitted with several popular wave sensors, including Saab and Marex radars, an EMI laser, a Baylor wave staff and a Vlissingen step gauge. Buoys were moored nearby to obtain directional spectra. Two video cameras viewed the ocean under the wave sensors and their signals were recorded digitally. The data analysis focused on comparisons of the crest height measurements from the various sensors and comparisons of the crest height distributions derived from the sensors and from theories. Some of the sensors had greater than expected energy at high frequencies. Once the measurements were filtered at 0.64 Hz, the Baylor, EMI and Vlissingen crest height distributions matched quite closely, while those from the other sensors were a few percent higher. The Baylor and EMI crest distributions agreed very well with the statistics from second order simulations, while previous parameterizations of the crest height distribution were generally too high. We conclude that crest height distributions derived from second order simulations can be used with confidence in engineering calculations. The data were also used in investigations of crest and trough shapes and the joint height/period distribution.

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