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Improving HF Radar Estimates of Surface Currents Using Signal Quality Metrics, with Application to the MVCO High-Resolution Radar System

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  • 1 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
  • | 2 Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California
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Abstract

Estimates of surface currents over the continental shelf are now regularly made using high-frequency radar (HFR) systems along much of the U.S. coastline. The recently deployed HFR system at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) is a unique addition to these systems, focusing on high spatial resolution over a relatively small coastal ocean domain with high accuracy. However, initial results from the system showed sizable errors and biased estimates of M2 tidal currents, prompting an examination of new methods to improve the quality of radar-based velocity data. The analysis described here utilizes the radial metric output of CODAR Ocean Systems’ version 7 release of the SeaSonde Radial Site Software Suite to examine both the characteristics of the received signal and the output of the direction-finding algorithm to provide data quality controls on the estimated radial currents that are independent of the estimated velocity. Additionally, the effect of weighting spatial averages of radials falling within the same range and azimuthal bin is examined to account for differences in signal quality. Applied to two month-long datasets from the MVCO high-resolution system, these new methods are found to improve the rms difference comparisons with in situ current measurements by up to 2 cm s−1, as well as reduce or eliminate observed biases of tidal ellipses estimated using standard methods.

Corresponding author address: Anthony Kirincich, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole Road, Woods Hole, MA 02543. E-mail: akirincich@whoi.edu

Abstract

Estimates of surface currents over the continental shelf are now regularly made using high-frequency radar (HFR) systems along much of the U.S. coastline. The recently deployed HFR system at the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) is a unique addition to these systems, focusing on high spatial resolution over a relatively small coastal ocean domain with high accuracy. However, initial results from the system showed sizable errors and biased estimates of M2 tidal currents, prompting an examination of new methods to improve the quality of radar-based velocity data. The analysis described here utilizes the radial metric output of CODAR Ocean Systems’ version 7 release of the SeaSonde Radial Site Software Suite to examine both the characteristics of the received signal and the output of the direction-finding algorithm to provide data quality controls on the estimated radial currents that are independent of the estimated velocity. Additionally, the effect of weighting spatial averages of radials falling within the same range and azimuthal bin is examined to account for differences in signal quality. Applied to two month-long datasets from the MVCO high-resolution system, these new methods are found to improve the rms difference comparisons with in situ current measurements by up to 2 cm s−1, as well as reduce or eliminate observed biases of tidal ellipses estimated using standard methods.

Corresponding author address: Anthony Kirincich, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole Road, Woods Hole, MA 02543. E-mail: akirincich@whoi.edu
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