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We analyzed wave and wind data from 18 buoys in the Southern California Bight to characterize the spatial and temporal variability of the regional wave climate. Point Conception shelters most of the Bight from being directly impacted by North Pacific weather. The wave height inside the sheltered zone and to the east of the Channel Islands is less than half the wave height in the open ocean to the west. Within the sheltered Bight, storm waves (by proxy of being greater than the 95th percentile wave height for more than 6 hours) are mainly from the west, but long period swells (Tp >15 seconds) are mainly from the south-southwest. There are on average two to four storms during each winter month (November–March) and fewer than two storms per month for the rest of the year. The Channel Islands selectively block the westerly swells and make the wave climate in the Santa Barbara Channel different from the rest of the sheltered Bight. A statistically significant wave-height minimum exists in the area offshore Dana Point and Oceanside. The multiyear (2–23 years) wave-data records from all 18 buoys show negligible temporal trend, positive or negative. Like the wave climate, the long-term probability of sediment transport on the continental shelves of the Bight displays large difference between the sheltered and open-ocean (near Point Conception) sites. The return period of incipient sediment motion on the sheltered shelf breaks (one to five months) is at least two orders of magnitude longer than that on the Point Conception shelf break (0.6 day). Similar to the spatial distribution of wave heights, there is a systematic return-period maximum on the shelf off Dana Point and Oceanside.

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