Can wave coupling improve operational regional ocean forecasts for the north-west European Shelf?

Lewis, Huw W.; Castillo Sanchez, Juan Manuel; Siddorn, John; King, Robert R.; Tonani, Marina; Saulter, Andrew; Sykes, Peter; Pequignet, Anne-Christine; Weedon, Graham P.; Palmer, Tamzin; Staneva, Joanna; Bricheno, Lucy

Operational ocean forecasts are typically produced by modelling systems run using a forced mode approach. The evolution of the ocean state is not directly influenced by surface waves, and the ocean dynamics are driven by an external source of meteorological data which are independent of the ocean state. Model coupling provides one approach to increase the extent to which ocean forecast systems can represent the interactions and feedbacks between ocean, waves, and the atmosphere seen in nature. This paper demonstrates the impact of improving how the effect of waves on the momentum exchange across the ocean–atmosphere interface is represented through ocean–wave coupling on the performance of an operational regional ocean prediction system. This study focuses on the eddy-resolving (1.5 km resolution) Atlantic Margin Model (AMM15) ocean model configuration for the north-west European Shelf (NWS) region.

A series of 2-year duration forecast trials of the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) north-west European Shelf regional ocean prediction system are analysed. The impact of including ocean–wave feedbacks via dynamic coupling on the simulated ocean is discussed. The main interactions included are the modification of surface stress by wave growth and dissipation, Stokes–Coriolis forcing, and wave-height-dependent ocean surface roughness. Given the relevance to operational forecasting, trials with and without ocean data assimilation are considered.

Summary forecast metrics demonstrate that the ocean–wave coupled system is a viable evolution for future operational implementation. When results are considered in more depth, wave coupling was found to result in an annual cycle of relatively warmer winter and cooler summer sea surface temperatures for seasonally stratified regions of the NWS. This is driven by enhanced mixing due to waves, and a deepening of the ocean mixed layer during summer. The impact of wave coupling is shown to be reduced within the mixed layer with assimilation of ocean observations. Evaluation of salinity and ocean currents against profile measurements in the German Bight demonstrates improved simulation with wave coupling relative to control simulations. Further, evidence is provided of improvement to simulation of extremes of sea surface height anomalies relative to coastal tide gauges.

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Lewis, Huw W. / Castillo Sanchez, Juan Manuel / Siddorn, John / et al: Can wave coupling improve operational regional ocean forecasts for the north-west European Shelf?. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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