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This study investigated and quantified the sensitivity of tropical cyclone (TC) wave simulations in the open ocean to different spatial resolutions (1/3°, 1/6°, 1/12° and 1/24°) using two wave models, WAVEWATCH III (WW3) and Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN). Six idealized TCs of different radii of maximum winds (25 km and 50 km), and of different translation speeds (3 m/s, 6 m/s and 9 m/s) were prescribed to force these two wave models. Results from both models show that the coarsest resolution (1/3°) introduces significant errors in both the significant wave height (SWH) and the mean wavelength. Moreover, results reveal that sensitivity to spatial resolution strongly depends on storm characteristics. Waves simulated under the small (25 km) and fast moving (9 m/s) TC show the largest sensitivity to the coarse spatial resolutions. With the 1/3° resolution, maximum SWH can be underestimated by as much as 6% in WW3 and 16% in SWAN compared to those with the 1/24° resolution. These findings from the idealized TC simulations are further confirmed by wave simulations under a historical storm. Our analysis also demonstrates that spatial smoothing of the input wind field with coarse grids is not the only reason for the errors in wave simulations.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.