Original paper

Evaluating the suitability of the SWAN/COSMO-2 model system to simulate short-crested surface waves for a narrow lake with complex bathymetry

Graf, Michael; Sprenger, Michael; Lohmann, Ulrike; Seibt, Christian; Hofmann, Hilmar

Meteorologische Zeitschrift Vol. 22 No. 3 (2013), p. 257 - 272

published: Jul 1, 2013

DOI: 10.1127/0941-2948/2013/0442

BibTeX file


Open Access (paper can be downloaded for free)

Download paper for free


The spectral wave model SWAN (Simulating Waves Nearshore) was applied to Lake Zurich, a narrow pre-Alpine lake in Switzerland. The aim of the study is to investigate whether the model system consisting of SWAN and the numerical weather prediction model COSMO-2 is a suitable tool for wave forecasts for the pre-Alpine Lake Zurich. SWAN is able to simulate short-crested wind-generated surface waves. The model was forced with a time varying wind field taken from COSMO-2 with hourly outputs. Model simulations were compared with measured wave data at one near-shore site during a frontal passage associated with strong on-shore winds. The overall course of the measured wave height is well captured in the SWAN simulation: the wave amplitude significantly increases during the frontal passage followed by a transient drop in amplitude. The wave pattern on Lake Zurich is quite complex. It strongly depends on the inherent variability of the wind field and on the external forcing due to the surrounding complex topography. The influence of the temporal wind resolution is further studied with two sensitivity experiments. The first one considers a low-pass filtered wind field, based on a 2-h running mean of COSMO-2 output, and the second experiment uses simple synthetic gusts, which are implemented into the SWAN model and take into account short-term fluctuations of wind speed at 1-sec resolution. The wave field significantly differs for the 1-h and 2-h simulations, but is only negligibly affected by the gusts.


complex topographysurface wave forecastwind fluctuations