The dominant characteristics of wave energy variability in the eastern North Pacific are described from NOAA National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) buoy data collected from 1981 to 2003. Ten buoys at distributed locations were selected for comparison based on record duration and data continuity. Long-period (LP) [T > 12] s, intermediate-period [6 ??? T ??? 12] s, and short-period [T < 6] s wave spectral energy components are considered separately. Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analyses of monthly wave energy anomalies reveal that all three wave energy components exhibit similar patterns of spatial variability. The dominant mode represents coherent heightened (or diminished) wave energy along the West Coast from Alaska to southern California, as indicated by composites of the 700 hPa height field. The second EOF mode reveals a distinct El Nin??o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-associated spatial distribution of wave energy, which occurs when the North Pacific storm track is extended unusually far south or has receded to the north. Monthly means and principal components (PCs) of wave energy levels indicate that the 1997-1998 El Nin??o winter had the highest basin-wide wave energy within this record, substantially higher than the 1982-1983 El Nin??o. An increasing trend in the dominant PC of LP wave energy suggests that storminess has increased in the northeast Pacific since 1980. This trend is emphasized at central eastern North Pacific locations. Patterns of storminess variability are consistent with increasing activity in the central North Pacific as well as the tendency for more extreme waves in the south during El Nin??o episodes and in the north during La Nin??a. Copyright 2005 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Wave spectral energy variability in the northeast Pacific