Extreme waves induced by cyclone Nargis at Myanmar coast: numerical modeling versus satellite observations

Thit Oo Kyaw*, Miguel Esteban, Martin Mäll, Tomoya Shibayama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The deltaic coast of Myanmar was severely hit by tropical cyclone Nargis in May 2008. In the present study, a top-down numerical simulation approach using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN) models was conducted to study the meteorological and offshore wave characteristics of cyclone Nargis near the coast of Myanmar. The WRF simulation results agree well with the observed data from the India Meteorological Department. SWAN simulation results were compared with the WaveWatch 3 model by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and validated against available measurement data from satellites. The model results show relatively good agreement, and hindcast with satellites data (significant wave height only) shows a correlation coefficient value of 0.89. The SWAN and satellite comparisons also show better fit for high wave conditions. The resulted maximum significant wave height of 7.3 m by SWAN is considerably higher in energy than the seasonal waves normally prevalent at Myanmar’s deltaic coast. The possibility of high energy waves due to cyclones should be considered during the design and operation of coastal and offshore projects in the area, particularly given the risks that climate change can intensify cyclones in the future. Since Myanmar lacks a dense network of in-situ observational stations, the methodology used in the current study presents the potential application of various numerical techniques and satellite data to estimate extreme wave conditions near the Myanmar coast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1797-1818
Number of pages22
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr


  • Cyclone nargis
  • Myanmar coast
  • SWAN
  • Satellite wave altimetry
  • WRF
  • Wind waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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