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Detection of Fronts as a Metric for Numerical Model Accuracy

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  • 1 Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
  • | 2 Naval Oceanographic Office, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
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Abstract

As numerical modeling advances, quantitative metrics are necessary to determine whether the model output accurately represents the observed ocean. Here, a metric is developed based on whether a model places oceanic fronts in the proper location. Fronts are observed and assessed directly from along-track satellite altimetry. Numerical model output is then interpolated to the locations of the along-track data, and fronts are detected in the model output. Scores are determined from the percentage of observed fronts correctly simulated in the model and from the percentage of modeled fronts confirmed by observations. These scores depend on certain parameters such as the minimum size of a front, which will be shown to be geographically dependent. An analysis of two models, the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) and the Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM), is presented as an example of how this metric might be applied and interpreted. In this example, scores are found to be relatively stable in time, but strongly dependent on the mesoscale variability in the region of interest. In all cases, the metric indicates that there are more observed fronts not found in the models than there are modeled fronts missing from observations. In addition to the score itself, the analysis demonstrates that modeled fronts have smaller amplitude and are less steep than observed fronts.

For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Elizabeth M. Douglass, elizabeth.douglass@nrlssc.navy.mil

Abstract

As numerical modeling advances, quantitative metrics are necessary to determine whether the model output accurately represents the observed ocean. Here, a metric is developed based on whether a model places oceanic fronts in the proper location. Fronts are observed and assessed directly from along-track satellite altimetry. Numerical model output is then interpolated to the locations of the along-track data, and fronts are detected in the model output. Scores are determined from the percentage of observed fronts correctly simulated in the model and from the percentage of modeled fronts confirmed by observations. These scores depend on certain parameters such as the minimum size of a front, which will be shown to be geographically dependent. An analysis of two models, the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) and the Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM), is presented as an example of how this metric might be applied and interpreted. In this example, scores are found to be relatively stable in time, but strongly dependent on the mesoscale variability in the region of interest. In all cases, the metric indicates that there are more observed fronts not found in the models than there are modeled fronts missing from observations. In addition to the score itself, the analysis demonstrates that modeled fronts have smaller amplitude and are less steep than observed fronts.

For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Elizabeth M. Douglass, elizabeth.douglass@nrlssc.navy.mil
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