Swell events show a large variety of configurations when they arrive at sites off West Africa after generation and propagation of waves across the Atlantic Ocean. Within the West Africa Swell Project (WASP JIP), these different configurations have been described and discussed and the ability of numerical models to reproduce faithfully their properties has been assessed from comparisons with in-situ measurements.
During the austral winter months, swells approach West African coast from the south to south-westerly direction. These swells are generated by storms in the South Atlantic mainly between 40°S and 60°S. But during austral summer, north-westerly swells are also observed coming from North Atlantic. Typical situations of superposition of these different swells are illustrated in the paper.
In spite of a poor overlapping between numerical and in-situ measurements databases at the time of the WASP project, and of reduced durations of measurement campaigns, comparisons between in situ measurements and hindcast models permitted identification of the limitations of the different numerical models available. Three sites have been used for this study, one in the Gulf of Guinea with directional Waverider and Wavescan buoys, a second one off Namibia with a directional Waverider and one last instrumented with two wavestaffs off Cabinda (Angola).
In addition, the existence of infra-gravity waves in shallow water measurements has been investigated.