Breakwaters influence coastal wave climate and circulation by blocking and dissipating wave energy. In a large harbor, these effects are combined with wave generation, refraction and reflection. Accurate representation of these processes is essential to the determination of coastal circulation and wave processes. MIKE21SW and SWAN are two third-generation spectral wave models which are used widely in coastal research and engineering applications. Recently improved versions of the models are able to consider the influence of breakwater structures. In this study, we used available observations to evaluate the accuracy of model simulations of waves in New Haven Harbor, Connecticut, USA, an estuary with three detached breakwaters near the mouth. The models were executed on their optimum unstructured triangular grid. The boundary conditions were derived from a bottom mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) on the offshore side of the breakwaters. Wind forcing was applied using data from the Central Long Island Sound buoy. We found that both models were largely consistent with observations during storms. However, MIKE21SW predicted some of storm peaks slightly better. SWAN required the finer grid to achieve the optimum condition, but as it uses a fast, fully implicit algorithm, the computational times were similar. Also, the sensitivity analysis represents that wind forcing and the breakwaters have significant impact on the results.
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