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HF Radar Performance in a Low-Energy Environment: CODAR SeaSonde Experience on the West Florida Shelf

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  • 1 College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida
  • | 2 Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • | 3 Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida
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Abstract

Three long-range (5 MHz) Coastal Ocean Dynamics Application Radar (CODAR) SeaSonde HF radars overlooking an array of as many as eight moored acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) have operated on the West Florida Shelf since September 2003 for the purpose of observing the coastal ocean currents. HF radar performance on this low-energy (currents and waves) continental shelf is evaluated with respect to data returns, the rms differences between the HF radar and the ADCP radial currents, bearing offsets, and radial velocity uncertainties. Possible environmental factors affecting the HF radar performance are discussed, with the findings that both the low-energy sea state and the unfavorable surface wave directions are the main limiting factors for these HF radar observations of currents on the WFS. Despite the challenge of achieving continuous backscatter from this low-energy environment, when acquired the data quality is good in comparison with the ADCP measurements. The rms differences range from 6 to 10 cm s−1 for hourly and from 3 to 6 cm s−1 for 36-h low-pass-filtered radial currents, respectively. Bearing offsets are in the range from −15° to +9°. Coherent variations of the HF radar and ADCP radial currents are seen across both tidal and subtidal frequency bands. By examining the HF radar radial velocities at low wave energy, it is found that the data returns decrease rapidly for significant wave heights smaller than 1 m, and that the rms differences between the HF radar and ADCP radials are degraded when the significant wave height is smaller than 0.3 m.

Corresponding author address: Yonggang Liu, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 Seventh Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Email: yliu18@gmail.com

Abstract

Three long-range (5 MHz) Coastal Ocean Dynamics Application Radar (CODAR) SeaSonde HF radars overlooking an array of as many as eight moored acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) have operated on the West Florida Shelf since September 2003 for the purpose of observing the coastal ocean currents. HF radar performance on this low-energy (currents and waves) continental shelf is evaluated with respect to data returns, the rms differences between the HF radar and the ADCP radial currents, bearing offsets, and radial velocity uncertainties. Possible environmental factors affecting the HF radar performance are discussed, with the findings that both the low-energy sea state and the unfavorable surface wave directions are the main limiting factors for these HF radar observations of currents on the WFS. Despite the challenge of achieving continuous backscatter from this low-energy environment, when acquired the data quality is good in comparison with the ADCP measurements. The rms differences range from 6 to 10 cm s−1 for hourly and from 3 to 6 cm s−1 for 36-h low-pass-filtered radial currents, respectively. Bearing offsets are in the range from −15° to +9°. Coherent variations of the HF radar and ADCP radial currents are seen across both tidal and subtidal frequency bands. By examining the HF radar radial velocities at low wave energy, it is found that the data returns decrease rapidly for significant wave heights smaller than 1 m, and that the rms differences between the HF radar and ADCP radials are degraded when the significant wave height is smaller than 0.3 m.

Corresponding author address: Yonggang Liu, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 Seventh Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Email: yliu18@gmail.com

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