Existing metocean design criteria for offshore facilities in the South China Sea have been estimated using different data and procedures, some of which are at least partly ad hoc. As a result, it is probable that existing criteria are inconsistent, in the sense that assets designed to the same design codes have different realised levels of integrity. To address this concern in this paper, we apply a large-scale extreme value model adapted to parallel computing environment, applied to the recent high-resolution SEAFINE hindcast database. This not only ensures design criteria that are statistically and spatially consistent but is also faster by avoiding the need for repetitive site-specific analysis.

We have to overcome several challenges before we can apply a large-scale extreme model on the SEAFINE database. These include identifying a spatially consistent set of storm peaks and validating the hindcast data with real measurements. We then estimate marginal return values for significant wave height for locations within a large spatial neighbourhood, accounting for spatial and storm directional variability of peaks over threshold. A quantile regression identifies the extreme value threshold, the rate of exceedance of which is described using a Poisson process. The size of threshold exceedances is described by a generalised Pareto model. The characteristics of the threshold, rate and size models are all non-stationary with respect to directional and spatial covariates, parameterised in terms of (multi-dimensional) penalised B-splines. Parameter estimation is computationally challenging, but a combination of efficient generalised linear array algorithms executed within a parallel computing environment enable maximum likelihood estimation of all models. Bootstrap resampling is used to estimate uncertainties of model parameters and return values.

We thus estimate consistent marginal return values for significant wave height and their uncertainties, at all locations in the spatial neighbourhood. In addition, we quantify directional variability of return values across different return periods. We rigorously validate the proposed spatio-directional model with that of a direction-only model by deriving model diagnostics for the same site and demonstrating equivalent goodness of fits. To our knowledge this is the first of a kind of application of large-scale estimation for the South China Sea. With this approach, design criteria for large spatial domains, non-stationary with respect to the appropriate environmental covariates, can be estimated efficiently, consistently and with quantified uncertainty.

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