Skill assessment of HF radar-derived products for Lagrangian simulations in the Bay of Biscay
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Since January 2009, two long-range high-frequency (HF) radar systems have been collecting hourly high-spatial-resolution surface current data in the southeastern corner of the Bay of Biscay. The temporal resolution of the HF radar surface currents permits simulating drifter trajectories with the same time step as that of real drifters deployed in the region in 2009. The main goal of this work is to compare real drifter trajectories with trajectories computed from HF radar currents obtained using different methods, including forecast currents. Open-boundary modal analysis (OMA) is applied to the radar radial velocities and then a linear autoregressive model on the empirical orthogonal function (EOF) decomposition of an historical data series is used to forecast OMA currents. Additionally, the accuracy of the forecast method in terms of the spatial and temporal distribution of the Lagrangian distances between observations and forecasts is investigated for a 4-yr period (2009–12). The skills of the different HF radar products are evaluated within a 48-h window. The mean distances between real trajectories and their radar-derived counterparts range from 4 to 5 km for real-time and forecast currents after 12 hours of simulations. The forecast model improves persistence (i.e., the simulations obtained by using the last available OMA fields as a constant variable) after 6 hours of simulation and improves the estimation of trajectories up to 28% after 48 hours. The performance of the forecast is observed to be variable in space and time, related to the different ocean processes governing the local ocean circulation.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.10.1175/JTECH-D-16-0045.1
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