The general procedure is discussed for determining the interval estimation of N-year return period extreme wave height with maximum likelihood method (MLM). The specific interval estimation expressions of the N-year return extreme wave height with MLM are given when the extreme wave height series fits a sort of maximum value distribution, such as Weibull distribution, generalized extreme value distribution and log-normal distribution. This paper also proposes a sign test method (STM) to estimate the interval of return extreme wave height. It is a non-parametric method that does not depend on the type of maximum value distributions. By adopting both MLM and STM, a stochastic simulation of the interval estimation is conducted to estimate the quantiles of the above maximum value distributions. The results indicate that SMT behaves well only when the sample size is sufficiently large (generally above 100), and the advantage of simulation with MLM is apparent if the sample size is smaller. Finally, a case study has been carried out with the extreme wave height measured at Weizhoudao hydrological station in the northern area of South China Sea.

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