Benefits of radar-derived surface current assimilation for South of Africa ocean circulation

Type Article
Date 2021-12
Language English
Author(s) Couvelard XavierORCID1, Messager Christophe1, Penven Pierrick2, Smet Sébastien3, Lattes Philippe4
Affiliation(s) 1 : EXWEXs, 2 Rue de Keraliou, 29200, Brest, France
2 : Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), IUEM, Brest, France
3 : Actimar, 36 Quai de la Douane, 29200, Brest, France
4 : Total E&P South Africa B.V., 27 Willie Van Schoor Avenue, Bellville, 7530, Western Cape, South Africa
Source Geoscience Letters (2196-4092) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2021-12 , Vol. 8 , N. 1 , P. 5 (11p.)
DOI 10.1186/s40562-021-00174-y
Keyword(s) 4DVAR, Agulhas current, HF radar, ROMS, forecast

The oceanic circulation south of Africa is characterised by a complex dynamics with a strong variability due to the presence of the Agulhas current and numerous eddies. This area of interest is also the location of several natural gas fields under seafloor which are targeted for drilling and exploitation. The complex and powerful ocean currents induces significant issues for ship operations at the surface as well as under the surface for deep sea operations. Therefore, the knowledge of the state of the currents and the ability to forecast them in a realistic manners could greatly enforce the safety of various marine operation. Following this objective, an array of HF radar systems were deployed to allow a detailed knowledge of the Agulhas currents and its associated eddy activity. It is shown in this study that assimilation of HF radar allow to represent the surface circulation more realistically. Two kind of experiments have been performed, a one month analysis and nine consecutive forecast of two days each. The one month 4DVAR experiment have been compared to geostrophic currents issued from altimeters and highlight an important improvement of the geostrophic currents. Furthermore despite the restricted size of the area covered with HF radar, we show that the solution is improved almost in the whole domain, mainly upstream and downstream of the HF radar’s covered area. We also show that while benefits of the assimilation on the surface current intensity is significantly reduced during the second day of forecast, the correction in direction persists after 48 h.

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