The BLUElink Ocean Modelling, Analysis and Prediction System (OceanMAPS) is implemented at the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) in Melbourne (Brassington 2010). It produces an analysis and 6-day forecast of ocean temperature, salinity, currents, sea surface height and mixed layer depth twice per week. Model output graphics are available from the BoM public website, and the model data itself is available to the RAN, and more generally for research purposes, from the BoM's 'Thematic Realtime Environmental Distributed Data Services' (THREDDS) server, in Network Common Data Form (NetCDF) format.
The OceanMAPS system is currently configured to give eddy-resolving resolution (10 km horizontally) over the Australian region (90°E-180°E and 16°N-75°S). Within this domain, OceanMAPS data is routinely used by the RAN to create oceanographic charts, which are available to naval personnel for a range of applications, including ASW, amphibious and mine warfare, passage planning and spatial awareness. An example of a 'METOC Oceanographic Forecast Summary' (MOFS) chart is shown in Fig. 24.7.
From the MOFS chart shown in Fig. 24.7, it can be seen that the East Australian Exercise Areas (EAXA), shown as blue polygons, are dominated by a large anti-cyclonic feature at the southern extremity of the East Australian Current. There is a sharp temperature gradient associated with this feature, at around 35°S, where reduced sonar ranges may be expected. For an ASW exercise in this location, the ASW commander might decide to allocate search assets either side of the temperature gradient, in order to achieve an efficient search. The submarine commander may chose to remain in the core of the current associated with this temperature gradient, in order to evade detection. By moving to either side for brief periods, sonar performance can be improved so that the tactical picture can be compiled. The
currents can also be exploited by the submarine to increase speed over the ground. Air assets deploying lines of sonobuoys can apply knowledge of the current field to ensure that the buoy patterns are not sheared out of shape by the flow. In addition, specialist oceanographers ('METOC' officers) may be available to provide further insights into the acoustic properties of the area, using OceanMAPS data, and hence assist decision making.
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