Ocean Modeling

Ocean-modeling activities at COAPS include model development, research, and graduate instruction. COAPS uses models ofvarious complexity, architecture, and horizontal and vertical coordinate representation as the principal tools. Models employed at COAPS vary from very high-resolution regional models to basin-scale and global models. The models currently used at COAPS are: Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM); Finite Volume Community Ocean Model (FVCOM); Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM); Regional Ocean Model System (ROMS) (regional/coastal); HYCOM (basin-scale); Hamburg Ocean Primitive Equation (HOPE); HYCOM (global). Model experiments are routinely run on the local COAPS computers as well as at various supercomputer centers (FSU, Naval Oceanographic Office [NAVOCEANO], National Center for Atmospheric Research [NCAR]).

Modeling studies address a wide range of topics from exploring physical processes in the deep and upper ocean to improving ocean forecasting. Coupling of the ocean models with different atmospheric/flux models gives researchers the chance to study air-sea interaction at a wide variety of time scales. For example, regional models coupled to the BVW atmospheric heat flux model are used to simulate more realistic analyses of the air-sea interaction and ocean response during hurricanes. The global models are coupled to either the COAPS/FSU global atmospheric model or to the NCAR Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) within the CCSM. These coupled models are used to investigate climate variability or climate change.

High-resolution numerical models are used at COAPS to study the physical environment of the Gulf of Mexico, which has long been an area of expertise. Researchers have explained why the actual height of the storm surge generated by Hurricane Dennis on the North Florida Coast was 8-10 ft. instead of the predicted 3-5 ft. The result of the project pointed out that, although Dennis had only modest winds off West Florida, these winds drove water on shore which morphed into a barotropic shelf wave that propagated to St. Marks, Florida, nearly doubling the surge caused by local winds. This research had important consequences as it led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to modify storm surge forecasting methods in the Gulf of Mexico, by including larger model domains to account for remotely-generated sea level anomalies.

For their study on the Gulf of Mexico, researchers at COAPS use two models. NCOM developed at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRC), is a three-dimensional primitive equation ocean model that has been optimized for running on supercomputers. The NCOM representations serve as a virtual laboratory for studying the physics of the ocean circulation within the Gulf of Mexico. Projects encompass studies of the Loop Current and its eddies within the deep ocean, the circulation on the continental shelves near the coast, the interaction of eddies with the waters of the continental shelves, and the impacts of river discharge on the ocean environment. Additionally, the model is used to advance the understanding of numerical methods, ocean prediction systems, and air-sea interaction.

The second configuration is based the HYCOM, which operates in near real time by the NRL at Sten-nis Space Center. More specifically, the goal is to further develop this configuration within the framework of the Northern Gulf Institute into a coupled ocean-atmosphere-biogeochemical modeling system. This modeling configuration will include: forcing from a high resolution regional atmospheric model, a wave model to improve the flux computations, real-time river discharge, tidal forcing, and a complex biogeo-chemical model. COAPS is developing a very highresolution regional model of the northeastern Gulf and will become part of this Gulf of Mexico HYCOM modeling system.

COAPS works in the field of physical oceanography and ocean prediction within the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE), which provides a framework for attempts to combine numerical models and observations via data assimilation to provide ocean prediction products on various spatial and time scales. GODAE supplies a global system of observations, communications, modeling, and assimilation that will deliver regular, comprehensive information on the state of the oceans. COAPS believes that studies in physical oceanography and ocean prediction will result, not only in increased knowledge of the marine environment and ocean climate, but also in improved predictive opportunities that will benefit commercial and industrial sectors of society. The development of this ocean prediction capability will allow a better scientific understanding of ocean physical processes and their influences on marine ecosystems. COAPS works within a large partnership of institutions to develop the performance and application of eddy-resolving, real-time global and basin-scale ocean prediction systems using HYCOM. This partnership is sponsored by the U.S. component of GODAE.

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