hebtools - Time series analysis tools for wave data

This project has now been migrated to Github

This python package processes raw Datawell Waverider files into a flexible time series. The code allows easier calculation of statistics from the displacement data, more sophisticated masking of improbable data and the ability to deal with larger timeseries than is available from existing software. Similar code is also used to process pressure data from Nortek AWAC sensors details are described below.

The code is organised into one main package named hebtools with four subpackages awac, common, dwr and test


In the case of a Datawell Waverider buoy the buoy data directory containing year subfolders must be passed to the load method of the parse_raw module which then iterates through the years. To call the module you can use the code below:

from hebtools.dwr import parse_raw 

# Parse a specific year 

# Parse a specific month

The module then processes the records from the raw files into a pandas DataFrame a good format for doing time series analysis. The main output file is called raw_plus_std and a smaller wave_height_dataframe dataframe is also produced providing details on individual waves extracted from the displacements.

Interrogating these output files in the DataFrame format requires a little knowledge of the pandas data structures and functionality. For example queries and plots inline from a real dataset see this example IPython Notebook An optional year and month parameter can be supplied to process a specific year, month folder. For more details on the approach taken to process the files please see the wiki

Masking and calculation of the standard deviation of displacement values takes place in the error_check module.

The parse_historical module takes a path to a buoy data directory ( organised in year and month subfolders ) and produces a joined DataFrame using the his ( 30 minute ) and hiw files stored in the month folders.


In the awac package there is a parse_wad class that can process a Nortek AWAC wad file. The pressure column can be then be processed in the same way as the Waverider heave displacement without the error correction. The module which uses an approach similar to wave_concat for calculating time interval based statistics.

parse_wap module takes a Nortek wave parameter file and generates a time indexed pandas Dataframe, with the optional name parameter if the produced DataFrame is intended to be joined to other data.


Peak and troughs are detected for the heave/pressure values in the GetExtrema class. In the WaveStats class wave heights and zero crossing periods are calculated, wave heights are calculated from peak to trough. The wave_power module


The test_dwr module for testing the parse_raw module and WaveStats class, example buoy data is required to test, one of day of anonymised data is provided in the data folder of the test package.

test_awac module tests the parse_wad and parse_wap modules. Short anonymised test data sets for wap and wad files are in the test folder.

Statistic outputs

The dwr/wave_concat module can be run after parse_raw to create a complete dataframe of all wave heights timestamped and sorted temporally for each buoy. The module uses data from the monthly wave_height_dataframe files, statistics are then calculated on the wave sets and then exported as an Excel workbook ( .xlsx file ). This module needs to be passed a path to a buoy data directory, the set size used for statistic calculation are based upon on the duration of the raw files ( usually 30 minutes ).

Statistical terms are calculated (Hrms,Hstd,Hmean where H is the wave heights ) and compared to the standard deviation of the heave displacement ( Hv_std ) to check that the waves conform to accepted statistical distributions.

Plot of output


The plot above compares wave height against the wave height divided by the standard deviation of the displacement signal, any values above 4 are considered to be statistically unrealistic for linear wave theory.


The project was developed with data received from Waverider MKII and MKIII buoys with RFBuoy v2.1.27 producing the raw files. The AWAC was a 1MHz device and Storm v1.14 produced the wad files. The code was developed with the assistance of the Hebridean Marine Energy Futures project.

Some more information on the data acquisition and overall workflow can be found on this poster


  • Python 2.7 ( developed and tested with 2.7.6 )
  • numpy ( developed and tested with 1.6.2 )
  • pandas ( minimum 0.12.0 )
  • matplotlib ( developed and tested with 1.2.0 )
  • openpyxl ( developed and tested with 1.6.1 )
  • PyTables ( developed and tested with 3.0.0 )

Almost all of the above requirements can be satisfied with a Python distribution like Anaconda CE.

openpyxl can be installed afterwards by running 'easy_install openpyxl' from the Anaconda scripts directory.

Recommended optional dependencies for speed are numexpr and bottleneck, Windows binaries for these packages are available from Christoph Gohlke's page