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Forecasting synoptic transients in the Eastern Ligurian Sea

Robinson, A.R., J. Sellschopp, W.G. Leslie, A. Alvarez, G. Baldasserini, P.J. Haley, P.F.J. Lermusiaux, C.J. Lozano, E. Nacini, R. Onken, R. Stoner, P. Zanasca, 2003. Forecasting synoptic transients in the Eastern Ligurian Sea. In "Rapid Environmental Assessment", Bovio, E., R. Tyce and H. Schmidt (Editors), SACLANTCEN Conference Proceedings Series CP-46, Saclantcen, La Spezia, Italy.

Oceanographic conditions in the Gulf of Procchio, along the northern Elba coast, are influenced by the circulation in the Corsica channel and the southeastern Ligurian Sea. In order to support ocean prediction by nested models, an initial 4-day CTD survey provided initial ocean conditions. The purposes of the forecasts were threefold: i) in support of AUV exercises; ii) as an experiment in the development of rapid environmental assessment (REA) methodology; and, iii) as a rigorous real time test of a distributed ocean ocean prediction system technology. The Harvard Ocean Prediction System (HOPS) was set up around Elba in a very high resolution domain (225 m horizontally) which was two-way nested in a high resolution domain (675 m) in the channel between Italy and Corsica. The HOPS channel domain was physically interfaced with a one-way nest to the CU-POM model run in a larger Ligurian Sea domain. Eleven nowcasts and 2-3 day forecasts were issued during the period 26 September to 10 October, 2000 for the channel domain and for a Procchio Bay operational sub-domain of the Elba domain.

After initialization with the NRV Alliance, CTD survey data adaptive sampling patterns for nightly excursions of the Alliance were designed on the basis of forecasts to obtain data for assimilation which would most efficiently maintain the structures and variability of the flow in future dynamical forecasts. Images of satellite sea surface temperature were regularly processed and used for track planning and also for model verification. Rapid environmental assessment (REA) techniques were used for data processing and transmission from ship to shore and vice versa for model results. ADCP data validated well the flow in the channel. Additionally and importantly, the direction and strength of the flow in Procchio Bay were correctly forecast by dynamics supported only by external observations. CU-POM model hydrographic and geostrophic flow data was assimilated successfully on boundary strips of the HOPS domain. Flow fields with/without CU-POM nesting were qualitatively similar and a quantitative analysis of differences is under study. A significant result was the demonstration of a powerful and efficient distributed ocean observing and prediction system with in situ data collected in the Ligurian Sea, satellite data collected at SACLANTCEN, forecast modeling at Harvard University and the University of Colorado, and adaptive sampling tracks designed at Harvard. The distributed system functioned smoothly and effectively and coped with the adverse six-hour time difference between Massachusetts and Italy.