The US West Coast model intercomparison project

Project Team

Project Lead: Alex Kurapov, Oregon State University

CO-PIs: Christopher Edwards (UCSC), Yi Chao (Remote Sensing Solutions), Parker MacCready (UW), Andrew Moore (UCSC)

Other Collaborators: Bruce Cornuelle (UCSD), Fei Chai (U Maine)

Federal Partners:

NOAA-CSDL: Edward Meyers

NOAA-JCSDA: Eric Bayler

NOAA NWS NCEP: Avichal Mehra

NRL: Igor Shulman

Project Overview and Results

Ocean circulation and biochemistry support rich biological diversity in the waters along the US West Coast, across the entire Exclusive Economic Zone within the 200 nautical miles from shore. The Pacific waters along the USE West Coast is an area of intense shipping. Fishery is a backbone of the economy of the local communities. Ocean forecast systems are using comprehensive three-dimensional ocean circulation or coupled physical-biological-chemical models combined with atmospheric forecasts and assimilation of recent satellite and in-situ observations to provide guidance to fishermen and other users. The forecast products, available for several days in advance, will provide multiple benefits to businesses, government agencies, and general public. For instance, the knowledge of:

surface currents and temperature:

 - will help fisheries management and planning

 - will help optimize ship routes reducing fuel cost and risk at sea

 - will provide guidance to search and rescue operations at sea

 - will guide environmental hazard response, e.g., in oil spill or marine debris incidents

 - will warn about the onshore transport of harmful pathogens that threaten to close beaches and shellfish farms

total coastal sea level:

 - will help navigation in estuaries

 - will be used as an input in models of inundation and beach erosion assessment

dissolved oxygen concentration:

 - will help fishermen avoid hypoxic, “dead” zones

 - will help fisheries managers develop policy based on the state of the ocean health


The US West Coast component of the Coastal Ocean Modeling Testbed brings together researchers involved in coastal ocean modeling, data assimilation, and prediction with the goal to improve existing prediction systems and compare performance of different models and data assimilation approaches. The existing real-time forecast systems, supported by NOAA IOOS regional observing systems, include (1) the Oregon-Washington system run by a group at Oregon State University as part of NANOOS, (2) the LifeOcean system focused on the Washington coast and run at the University of Washington, supported by NANOOS and the State of WA, (3) the California system run by RSSI supported by CeNCOOS and SCCOOS, and (4) the regional West Coast system run at the University of California – Santa Cruz, supported by CeNCCOOS. These efforts include different approaches to data assimilation and three different biogeochemical models.

Specific system evaluations, comparisons, and improvements include:

(i) Forecast skill is assessed against available in-situ and satellite observations.

(ii) Three existing NPZ-type biogeochemical models, including the 6-component NPZDO, the 11-component NEMURO, and the 31-component CoSiNe are compared to each other and to available data. The practicality of developing a unified biogeochemical model across all three regions is evaluated.

(iii) Effects of different boundary conditions on accuracy of coastal ocean forecasts are evaluated.

(iv) New approaches to coastal ocean data assimilation are tested including the Ensemble Kalman Filter and the hybrid ensemble-variational method.

(v) Observing system simulation experiments (OSSE) are performed using newly developed observation sensitivity and observation impact tools.

(vi) The metrics for skill assessment and the best practices for data assimilation and coupled physical-biogeochemical modeling are transitioned to the West Coast Ocean Forecast System that is being developed and tested at NOAA CSDL and implemented in the near real-time by NOAA CO-OPS.

Additional detail on the methodology and results of this project are available from the 2016 COMT Annual Meeting: West Coast Operational Forecast System Report; the 2016 COMT Annual Meeting: West Coast California Current Obs System Report, the 2016 COMT Annual Meeting: West Coast BioPhysical Report, and the 2016 Semi-Annual Report.

Model Descriptions

OR-WA (Kurapov)

WA - LifeOcean (MacCready)

CA - Yi

Regional West Coast - Chris

Sub-Project Descriptions/Data

Published Results