Forecast of drifter trajectories using a Rapid Environmental Assessment based on CTD observations

Sorgente, R.; Tedesco, C.; Pessini, F.; De Dominicis, M. ORCID:; Gerin, R.; Olita, A.; Fazioli, L.; Di Maio, A.; Ribotti, A.. 2016 Forecast of drifter trajectories using a Rapid Environmental Assessment based on CTD observations. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 133. 39-53.

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A high resolution submesoscale resolving ocean model was implemented in a limited area north of Island of Elba where a maritime exercise, named Serious Game 1 (SG1), took place on May 2014 in the framework of the project MEDESS-4MS (Mediterranean Decision Support System for Marine Safety). During the exercise, CTD data have been collected responding to the necessity of a Rapid Environmental Assessment, i.e. to a rapid evaluation of the marine conditions able to provide sensible information for initialisation of modelling tools, in the scenario of possible maritime accidents. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the impact of such mesoscale-resolving CTD observations on short-term forecasts of the surface currents, within the framework of possible oil-spill related emergencies. For this reason, modelling outputs were compared with Lagrangian observations at sea: the high resolution modelled currents, together with the ones of the coarser sub-regional model WMED, are used to force the MEDSLIK-II oil-spill model to simulate drifter trajectories. Both ocean models have been assessed by comparing the prognostic scalar and vector fields as an independent CTD data set and with real drifter trajectories acquired during SG1. The diagnosed and prognosed circulation reveals that the area was characterised by water masses of Atlantic origin influenced by small mesoscale cyclonic and anti-cyclonic eddies, which govern the spatial and temporal evolution of the drifter trajectories and of the water masses distribution. The assimilation of CTD data into the initial conditions of the high resolution model highly improves the accuracy of the short-term forecast in terms of location and structure of the thermocline and positively influence the ability of the model in reproducing the observed paths of the surface drifters.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 09670645
Additional Keywords: Mesoscale circulation; Currents forecast; Trajectory modelling; Leeway
Date made live: 10 Nov 2016 13:58 +0 (UTC)

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