Ocean Waves

Ocean wind-waves are a dominant process in our coastal and near-shore regions. Understanding the characteristics of the mean and extreme wave climate, its variability, and historical and projected future change is an important consideration for sustainable development of coastal and offshore infrastructure, and management of coastal resources and ecosystems. Our research into ocean waves focuses on wind-waves as an important component of the Earth’s climate system, recognising that global wave climate will change with the historical and future changes in the frequency, intensity and position of the marine storms that generate them. These changes, in available wave energy, frequency, and direction can lead to significant changes in the stability of our coasts, potentially exacerbating any future impacts expected with sea-level rise.

Wave information is gathered via several means, including surface in-situ buoys which are operated by many different organisations, satellite remote sensing of waves, and development of numerical wave models. We develop datasets to support many sectors. Key examples include the CAWCR global wave hindcast (a partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology) and satellite data as part of the Integrated Marine Observing System Waves Remote Sensing sub-facility.

Our wave climate research has driven the international collaborative COWCLIP (Coordinated Ocean Wave CLImate Project), and underpinned a range of Australian national projects seeking to understand wind-wave properties to support growth of Australian industry (e.g., the ARENA-funded Wave Energy Atlas project), or effective management of Australia’s and Pacific neighbours coasts in the face of climate change (e.g., the National Environmental Science Program Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub, the Australian Climate Change Science Programme – ACCSP, and the Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning project – PACCSAP).


Published data sets

See the data access page for information and links.


Outreach articles

Catching the waves: it’s time for Australia to embrace ocean renewable energy

Republished in The Conversation.


Harnessing the power of waves


For further information, please contact Mark (dot) Hemer (at) csiro (dot) au.