Offshore structures are typically required to withstand extreme and abnormal load effects with annual probabilities of occurrence of 10−2 and 10−4 respectively. For linear or weakly nonlinear problems, the load effects with the prescribed annual probabilities of occurrence are typically estimated as a relatively rare occurrence in the short term distribution of 100 year and 10 000 year seastates. For strongly nonlinear load effects, it is not given that an extreme seastate can be used reliably to estimate the characteristic load effect. The governing load may occur as an extremely rare event in a much lower seastate. In attempting to model the load effect in an extreme seastate, the relevant short term probability level is not known nor is it known whether the physics of the wave loading is captured correctly in an extreme seastate. Examples of such strongly nonlinear load effects are slamming loads on large volume offshore structures or wave in deck loads on jacket structures subject to seabed subsidence.

The present paper is concerned with the long term distribution of strongly nonlinear load effects and a methodology is proposed which incorporates CFD analysis in a long term Monte Carlo analysis of crest elevations and wave kinematics. Based on a long term time domain simulation of a linear surface elevation, a selection of events is run in CFD in order to obtain a database of linear and corresponding fully nonlinear wave fields with the possibility of wave breaking included. In the subsequent long term analysis, a large linear event is then replaced by the closest matching event in the database. A technique is developed to Froude scale the database results and shift the origin in time and plane so that the database of typically only 100 events give a close match to all the events in the simulation.

The method is applied to the simple case of drag loading on a cylinder which is truncated above the still water level such that only the largest waves impact with the structure. It is observed that whereas the Event Matching method agree well with a second order model for return periods lower than 100 years, the loading on the cylinder is significantly larger for longer return periods. The deviation is caused by the increasing dominance of wave braking in the largest crest and illustrates the importance of incorporating wave breaking in the analysis of wave in deck loading problems.

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