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Historical Drifter Data and Statistical Prediction of Particle Motion: A Case Study in the Central Adriatic Sea

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  • 1 RSMAS/MPO, University of Miami, Miami, Florida
  • | 2 RSMAS/MPO, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, and ISMAR/CNR, La Spezia, Italy
  • | 3 OGS, Trieste, Italy
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Abstract

In this paper, a method to analyze historical surface drifter data is presented that is aimed at investigating particle evolution as a function of initial conditions. Maps of drifter concentration at different times are built and interpreted as maps of the probability of finding a particle at a given time in the neighborhood of a given point in the domain. A case study is considered in a coastal area of the middle Adriatic Sea (a subbasin of the Mediterranean Sea) around the Gargano Cape, which is the focus of a newly planned experiment, the Dynamics of the Adriatic in Real Time (DART). A specific application is considered that seeks to improve the DART Lagrangian sampling planning.

The results indicate that the analysis of historical drifters can provide very valuable information on statistical particle prediction to be used in experiment design. In the DART region, particle dynamics appear mostly controlled by the upstream properties of the boundary current as well as by the presence of a stagnation point located offshore of the tip of Gargano and separating two cross-basin recirculations. A significant seasonal dependence is observed, with drifters being more likely to leave the boundary current in winter and fall, when the current is wider and more connected to the cross-basin recirculations. Future developments are discussed, including joint analyses with numerical model results.

* Current affiliation: Ocean Sciences Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California

Corresponding author address: Dr. Milena Veneziani, Ocean Sciences Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064. Email: milenav@pmc.ucsc.edu

Abstract

In this paper, a method to analyze historical surface drifter data is presented that is aimed at investigating particle evolution as a function of initial conditions. Maps of drifter concentration at different times are built and interpreted as maps of the probability of finding a particle at a given time in the neighborhood of a given point in the domain. A case study is considered in a coastal area of the middle Adriatic Sea (a subbasin of the Mediterranean Sea) around the Gargano Cape, which is the focus of a newly planned experiment, the Dynamics of the Adriatic in Real Time (DART). A specific application is considered that seeks to improve the DART Lagrangian sampling planning.

The results indicate that the analysis of historical drifters can provide very valuable information on statistical particle prediction to be used in experiment design. In the DART region, particle dynamics appear mostly controlled by the upstream properties of the boundary current as well as by the presence of a stagnation point located offshore of the tip of Gargano and separating two cross-basin recirculations. A significant seasonal dependence is observed, with drifters being more likely to leave the boundary current in winter and fall, when the current is wider and more connected to the cross-basin recirculations. Future developments are discussed, including joint analyses with numerical model results.

* Current affiliation: Ocean Sciences Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California

Corresponding author address: Dr. Milena Veneziani, Ocean Sciences Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064. Email: milenav@pmc.ucsc.edu

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