Abstract: The NOAA National Ocean Service’s (NOS) Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast System (NGOFS) became operational in March 2012. Implemented with the Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) as its core three-dimensional oceanographic circulation model, NGOFS produces a real-time nowcast (−6 h to zero) and six-hourly, two-day forecast guidance for water levels and three-dimensional currents, water temperature and salinity over the northern Gulf of Mexico continental shelf. Designed as a regional scale prediction system, NGOFS lacks sufficient spatial coverage and/or resolution to fully resolve hydrodynamic features in critical seaports and estuaries. To overcome this shortcoming and better support the needs of marine navigation, emergency response, and environmental management, two FVCOM-based, high-resolution, estuary-scale nested forecast modeling systems, namely the Northwest and Northeast Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast Systems (NWGOFS and NEGOFS), have been developed through one-way nesting in NGOFS. Using the atmospheric forecast guidance from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)/NWS (National Weather Services)’ North American Mesoscale (NAM) Forecast System, US Geological Survey (USGS) river discharge observations, and the NGOFS water level, current, water temperature and salinity as the surface, river, and open ocean boundary forcing, respectively, a six-month model hindcast for the period October 2010–March 2011 has been conducted. Modeled water levels, currents, salinity and water temperature are compared with observations using the NOS standard skill assessment software. Skill assessment scores indicated that NWGOFS and NEGOFS demonstrate improvement over NGOFS. The NWGOFS and NEGOFS are under real-time nowcast/forecast test and evaluation by NOS’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS). The forecast systems are scheduled to be implemented operational on NOAA Weather & Climate Operational Supercomputing System (WCOSS) in June 2014.
Keywords: FVCOM; nesting; northern Gulf of Mexico; operational forecast system
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Wei, E.; Zhang, A.; Yang, Z.; Chen, Y.; Kelley, J.G.; Aikman, F.; Cao, D. NOAA’s Nested Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast Systems Development. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2014, 2, 1-17.
Wei E, Zhang A, Yang Z, Chen Y, Kelley JG, Aikman F, Cao D. NOAA’s Nested Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast Systems Development. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. 2014; 2(1):1-17.
Wei, Eugene; Zhang, Aijun; Yang, Zizang; Chen, Yi; Kelley, John G.; Aikman, Frank; Cao, Degui. 2014. "NOAA’s Nested Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast Systems Development." J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2, no. 1: 1-17.