Calculate Wind Fetch

1) Upload a polygon shapefile. Each polygon represents a coastline boundary, island or other obstruction to wind.
2) Upload a points shapefile. Each point represents the location(s) at which the wind fetch will be calculated.
3) Set the maximum distance for all fetch vectors.
4) Set the number of directions to calculate per 90°

5) Calculate wind fetch!

Please don't forget to cite fetchR in publications.

Download the data in CSV or KML format for use in other software, or reproduce it using a custom R script.


Wind fetch

Wind fetch is an important measurement in coastal applications. It provides a measurement for the unobstructed length of water over which wind from a certain direction can blow over. The higher the wind fetch from a certain direction, the more energy is imparted onto the surface of the water resulting in a larger sea state. Therefore, the larger the fetch, the larger the exposure to wind and the more likely the site experiences larger sea states.

Simplifying fetch calculations

Averaging the wind fetch for numerous directions at the same location is a reasonable measure of the overall wind exposure. This process of calculating wind fetch can be extremely time-consuming and tedious, particularly if a large number of fetch vectors are required at many locations. The fetchR package is designed to calculate fetch lengths at locations anywhere on Earth, using R. This application uses the fetchR package but allows users to calculate fetch without R.

How to use this application

This fetchR application requires two shapefiles; one for the coastlines and other boundaries, and one for the locations at which to calculate wind fetch. The following example details the steps required for calculating fetch with a reproducible example using data from the Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) Data Service[1].

1) Upload a polygon shapefile to the application

This shapefile must:

  • be a Polygons ESRI shapefile, and;
  • have a valid map projection

As an example, download the high resolution New Zealand coastlines and islands polygons shapefile as a GIS shapefile with the NZGD2000 / New Zealand Transverse Mercator 2000 (EPSG:2193) map projection. Once the contents have been unzipped, the files can then be uploaded to the web application.

2) Upload a points shapefile

This shapefile must:

  • be a Point (or MultiPoint) ESRI shapefile

Every point represents a location at which the wind fetch will be calculated. This shapefile can be created from any GIS software, or directly within R.

Create an ESRI shapefile in R

As a example, create an ESRI Point shapefile in R for three locations around coastal New Zealand.

# This example requires the rgdal package to be loaded

# Create a data frame with the latitudes, longitudes and names of the
# locations.
fetch.df = data.frame(
  lon = c(174.8, 174.2, 168.2),
  lat = c(-36.4, -40.9, -46.7),
  name = c("Kawau Bay", "Chetwode Islands", "Foveaux Strait"))


# Create a SpatialPoints object for the fetch locations
fetch_locs = SpatialPointsDataFrame(fetch.df[, 1:2], 
                                    fetch.df[, -(1:2), drop = FALSE],
                                    proj4string = CRS("+init=epsg:4326"))

It is important to include a 'name' or 'Name' column in the data frame that gives the names for each of the locations. If there is no such column in the data within the shapefile, then the web application will not return meaningful names.

writeOGR(fetch_locs, "NZ_locations", "fetch_locations", "ESRI Shapefile")

These files can now be uploaded to the web application.


While the polygon layer requires a map projection, this is not a requirement for the point layer. If the point layer is not projected, it is automatically transformed to have the same map projection as the polygon layer before any wind fetch calculations take place.

3) Set maximum distance and number of directions

Set the required maximum distance (km) and number of equiangular directions to calculate per quadrant (i.e. per 90 degrees). The default is to calculate the wind fetch for 9 directions per 90 degrees, or; one fetch vector for every 10 degrees of angular separation.

4) Calculate fetch!

Finally, calculate fetch!

Navigate through the various tabs to see the fetch vectors, a summary of the wind exposure, and a table containing the raw data (in longitude / latitude coordinates). Once the calculations are completed, the web application allows the user to export the raw data as a CSV file, download a KML, or reproduce the results with a custom R file.

Download a project directory

If the custom R file is chosen for download, the web application creates a project directory (ZIP) with the required files (including the shapefiles), so that the custom R script can be sourced and run without any modifications to the code.

To reproduce the calculations locally, unzip the contents of the directory and source the calculate_fetch.R R file:

if (interactive())
  # Navigate to the Calculate_wind_fetch/R/calculate_fetch.R file
  source(file.choose(), chdir = TRUE)

This will automatically run the fetch function and output all the relevant CSV, KML and PNG files into their respective directories. See the README file in the parent directory for more information.

Deploy this application locally

This application can be deployed locally by installing the shiny package, and using the runGitHub() function:

if (!require('shiny')) 


Or you can clone or download the GitHub repository, and use the runApp() function:



## To cite package 'fetchR' in publications use:
##   Blake Seers (2017). fetchR: Calculate Wind Fetch in R. R package
##   version 2.0-2.
## A BibTeX entry for LaTeX users is
##   @Manual{,
##     title = {fetchR: Calculate Wind Fetch in R},
##     author = {Blake Seers},
##     year = {2017},
##     note = {R package version 2.0-2},
##     url = {},
##   }

[1] This requires a (free) registration to the LINZ Data Service and acceptance of the terms of conditions and privacy policy. The data sourced from Land Information New Zealand has not been adapted and is protected under CC-By Land Information New Zealand.