Rätsep, M.; Parnell, K.E., and Soomere, T., 2020. Detecting ship wakes for the study of coastal processes. In: Malvárez, G. and Navas, F. (eds.), Global Coastal Issues of 2020. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 95, pp. 1258–1262. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Wakes from contemporary vessels may affect, and in some places dominate, coastal processes in the vicinity of major shipping lanes. The analysis of the properties and impact of wakes has generally been restricted to wakes that can be visually observed in raw data. In this work, spectral analysis of the time series of single-point measurements of water surface elevation from Tallinn Bay is used to highlight the structure of ship wakes using a Short Time Fourier Transform. This method makes it possible to determine the speed and distance of a vessel from the measurement site. Wakes are detected using an algorithm based on Gabor multipliers. The results are compared with vessel passages retrieved from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) data. The algorithm detects the majority of ship wakes that can be visually recognized in spectrograms and misses only those with low signal to noise ratio or those in close proximity to another vessel wake. The calculated speed and distance are consistent with the AIS data except for high-speed vessels sailing at ≥30 knots. The results indicate that by using these techniques the detection of vessel wakes from a single-point wave record is achievable under favorable weather conditions. The methods provide an option for mitigation of the impact of ship wakes in semi-enclosed water bodies.