High-resolution ensemble forecasting for the Gulf of Mexico eddies and fronts

TitleHigh-resolution ensemble forecasting for the Gulf of Mexico eddies and fronts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsCounillon, FS, Bertino, L
JournalOcean Dynamics
Number of Pages83-95
Date Published12/2008

High-resolution models and realistic boundary conditions are necessary to reproduce the mesoscale dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). In order to achieve this, we use a nested configuration of the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM), where the Atlantic TOPAZ system provides lateral boundary conditions to a high-resolution (5 km) model of the GOM . However, such models cannot provide accurate forecasts of mesoscale variability, such as eddy shedding event, without data assimilation. Eddy shedding events involve the rapid growth of nonlinear instabilities that are difficult to forecast. The known sources of error are the initial state, the atmospheric condition, and the lateral boundary condition. We present here the benefit of using a small ensemble forecast (10 members) for providing confidence indices for the prediction, while using a data assimilation scheme based on optimal interpolation. Our set of initial states is provided by using different values of a data assimilation parameter, while the atmospheric and lateral boundary conditions are perturbed randomly. Changes in the data assimilation parameter appear to control the main position of the large features of the GOM in the initial state, whereas changes in the boundary conditions (lateral and atmospheric) appears to control the propagation of cyclonic eddies at their boundary. The ensemble forecast is tested for the shedding of Eddy Yankee (2006). The Loop Current and eddy fronts observed from ocean color and altimetry are almost always within the estimated positions from the ensemble forecast. The ensemble spread is correlated both in space and time to the forecast error, which implies that confidence indices can be provided in addition to the forecast. Finally, the ensemble forecast permits the optimization of a data assimilation parameter for best performance at a given forecast horizon.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
Author Address


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