Operational Wave Prediction System at Environment Canada: Going Global to Improve Regional Forecast Skill

Natacha B. Bernier Recherche en Prévision Numérique Environnementale, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Jose-Henrique G. M. Alves NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, Maryland

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Hendrik Tolman NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, Maryland

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Arun Chawla NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, Maryland

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Syd Peel Recherche en Prévision Numérique Environnementale, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Benoit Pouliot Recherche en Prévision Numérique Environnementale, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Jean-Marc Bélanger Recherche en Prévision Numérique Environnementale, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Pierre Pellerin Recherche en Prévision Numérique Environnementale, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Mario Lépine Services Informatiques de Recherche, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Michel Roch Recherche en Prévision Numérique Atmosphérique, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada

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Abstract

A global deterministic wave prediction system (GDWPS) is used to improve regional forecasts of waves off the Canadian coastline and help support the practice of safe marine activities in Canadian waters. The wave model has a grid spacing of ¼° with spectral resolution of 36 frequency bins and 36 directional bins. The wave model is driven with hourly 10-m winds generated by the operational global atmospheric prediction system. Ice conditions are updated every three hours using the ice concentration forecasts generated by the Global Ice–Ocean Prediction System. Wave forecasts are evaluated over two periods from 15 August to 31 October 2014 and from 15 December 2014 to 28 February 2015, as well as over select cases during the fall of 2012. The global system is shown to improve wave forecast skill over regions where forecasts were previously produced using limited-area models only. The usefulness of a global expansion is demonstrated for large swell events affecting the northeast Pacific. The first validation of a Canadian operational wave forecast system in the Arctic is presented. Improvements in the representation of forecast wave fields associated with tropical cyclones are also demonstrated. Finally, the GDWPS is shown to result in gains of at least 12 h of lead time.

Denotes Open Access content.

Corresponding author address: Natacha B. Bernier, Recherche en Prévision Numérique Environnementale (RPN-E), Environment Canada, 2121 Route Trans-Canadienne, Dorval QC H9P 1J3, Canada. E-mail: natacha.bernier@ec.gc.ca

Abstract

A global deterministic wave prediction system (GDWPS) is used to improve regional forecasts of waves off the Canadian coastline and help support the practice of safe marine activities in Canadian waters. The wave model has a grid spacing of ¼° with spectral resolution of 36 frequency bins and 36 directional bins. The wave model is driven with hourly 10-m winds generated by the operational global atmospheric prediction system. Ice conditions are updated every three hours using the ice concentration forecasts generated by the Global Ice–Ocean Prediction System. Wave forecasts are evaluated over two periods from 15 August to 31 October 2014 and from 15 December 2014 to 28 February 2015, as well as over select cases during the fall of 2012. The global system is shown to improve wave forecast skill over regions where forecasts were previously produced using limited-area models only. The usefulness of a global expansion is demonstrated for large swell events affecting the northeast Pacific. The first validation of a Canadian operational wave forecast system in the Arctic is presented. Improvements in the representation of forecast wave fields associated with tropical cyclones are also demonstrated. Finally, the GDWPS is shown to result in gains of at least 12 h of lead time.

Denotes Open Access content.

Corresponding author address: Natacha B. Bernier, Recherche en Prévision Numérique Environnementale (RPN-E), Environment Canada, 2121 Route Trans-Canadienne, Dorval QC H9P 1J3, Canada. E-mail: natacha.bernier@ec.gc.ca
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