An empirical statistical model relating winds and ocean surface currents : implications for short-term current forecasts Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ms35tb992

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  • An empirical statistical model is developed that relates the non-tidal motion of the ocean surface currents off the Oregon coast to forecasts of the coastal winds. The empirical statistical model is then used to produce predictions of the surface currents that are evaluated for their agreement with measured currents. Measurements of the ocean surface currents were made at 6 km resolution using Long-Range CODAR SeaSonde high-frequency (HF) surface current mappers and wind forecasts were provided at 12 km resolution by the North American Mesoscale (NAM) model. First, the response of the surface currents to wind-forcing measured by five coastal National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) stations was evaluated using empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis. A significant correlation of approximately 0.8 was found between the majority of the variability in the seasonal anomalies of the low-pass filtered surface currents and the seasonal anomalies of the low-pass filtered wind stress measurements. The U and the V components of the measured surface currents were both shown to be forced by the zonal and meridional components of the wind-stress at the NDBC stations. Next, the NAM wind forecasts were tested for agreement with the measurements of the wind at the NDBC stations. Significant correlations of around 0.8 for meridional wind stress and 0.6 for zonal wind stress were found between the seasonal anomalies of the low-pass filtered wind stress measured by the NDBC stations and the seasonal anomalies of the low-pass filtered wind stress forecast by the NAM model. Given the amount of the variance in the winds captured by the NAM model and the response of the ocean surface currents to both components of the wind, bilinear regressions were formed relating the seasonal anomalies of the low-pass filtered NAM forecasts to the seasonal anomalies of the low-pass filtered surface currents. The regressions turned NAM wind forecasts into predictions of the seasonal anomalies of the low-pass filtered surface currents. Calculations of the seasonal cycle in the surface currents, added to these predicted seasonal anomalies, produced a non-tidal estimation of the surface currents that allowed a residual difference to be calculated from recent surface current measurements. The sum of the seasonal anomalies, the seasonal cycle, and the residual formed a prediction of the non-tidal surface currents. The average error in this prediction of the surface currents off the Oregon coast remained less than 4 cm/s out through 48 hours into the future.
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