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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Analysis of Coastal Ocean Circulation and Coastal Altimeter Observing Systems Using Variational Methods in Model-Data Integration


John Wilkin - (Rutgers University)

Co-Investigator(s)/Institutional Principal Investigator(s):
  Douglas Vandemark

  Remko Scharroo
Javier Zavala-Garay
(Altimetrics LLC)
(IMCS, Rutgers University)


The project team will advance methods for processing and correction of altimeter data in coastal environments and integrate these data with oceanographic models using 4-dimensional variational data assimilation for the analysis of coastal ocean dynamics and operational forecasting of coastal ocean circulation.
With prior Ocean Surface Topography Science Team (OSTST) support, the project team has prototyped a coastal ocean analysis system that combines altimeter data derived using regional and near-to-coast altimeter range and geophysical corrections with an ocean circulation model using 4-dimensional variational methods (4DVar) for data assimilation. This model-data integration produces a 4-dimensional ocean analysis that respects data from altimetry, infrared and microwave SST satellites, coastal current measuring HF-radar, and in situ observations, while imposing dynamic and kinematic consistency in the analyzed variables through the model dynamical equations.
The prototype system was configured for and evaluated within the Mid-Atlantic Bight where an extensive Coastal Ocean Observing System provides independent data for skill assessment. The project has sustained an operational coastal ocean forecast system assimilating Jason-2 and other satellite data since October 2009.
This prior experience has indicated fruitful directions for enhancing all aspects of our data processing and data-assimilative modeling procedures, and has demonstrated a system that is ready for application to science questions regarding coastal ocean circulation and the ecosystem and geochemical processes that this circulation affects. We are in a position to recommend useful "best practices" for coastal corrections and variational data assimilation in other continental shelf regions and thereby facilitate more widespread adoption of altimeter data in the applied coastal oceanography science community.
Building upon our accomplishments in prior OSTST work, our new project objectives are:
  1. apply the system to studies of regional coastal oceanographic processes
  2. enhance the coastal correction and data assimilation systems
  3. sustain an operational ocean forecast
  4. quantify forecast uncertainty
  5. assess the information content of altimeter data, and
  6. evaluate the design of altimeter-based observing networks

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