Shipping companies can route ships more safely and efficiently. Ocean search-and-rescue can operate more effectively. Meteorologists and climatologists now have a tool to provide long-range weather prediction more accurately. Navies too can perform more accurate anti-submarine surveillance. And environmental managers now have a mechanism to track pollution, algal blooms, or emergent situations such as oil spills. And, this is all due to a unique three-dimensional ocean model that has been developed by Rosenstiel School researchers in collaboration with scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory.
Featured in the March issue of Oceanography, the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) is the critical part of data assimilative systems at the Naval Research Laboratory and at NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Prediction. The Navy will tap the velocities, temperature, and salinities of the HYCOM prediction system to force smaller models that provide even higher resolution that can account for things like rivers, tides, etc. in real-time for anywhere in the world. NOAA’s new Real-Time Ocean Forecast System will provide mariners with “nowcasts” and five-day forecasts for the entire North Atlantic Ocean. While other ocean models have been developed in the past, HYCOM is unique not only because it provides three-dimensional, global data that is of fine enough resolution to factor in the real-time displacements in currents caused by eddies, but also because of its flexibility in modeling both coastal and deep ocean regions (http://www.hycom.org). This enhanced understanding of the ocean offers invaluable applications.
“While a computer model may sound rather abstract to non-scientists, it’s exactly what can help clarify forecasting and minimize or prevent impacts from natural hazards on the seas,” said Dr. Eric Chassignet, principal investigator and a Rosenstiel School professor in meteorology and physical oceanography. Chassignet also just published a related book, titled Ocean Weather Forecasting: An Integrated View of Oceanography, which is now available.
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