Marine Science Faculty Publications

High-Frequency Radar Mapping of Surface Currents Using Wera

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Radar observations, Currents, Ocean circulation

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A dual-station high-frequency Wellen Radar (WERA), transmitting at 16.045 MHz, was deployed along the west Florida shelf in phased array mode during the summer of 2003. A 33-day, continuous time series of radial and vector surface current fields was acquired starting on 23 August ending 25 September 2003. Over a 30-min sample interval, WERA mapped coastal ocean currents over an ≈40 km × 80 km footprint with a 1.2-km horizontal resolution. A total of 1628 snapshots of the vector surface currents was acquired, with only 70 samples (4.3%) missing from the vector time series. Comparisons to subsurface measurements from two moored acoustic Doppler current profilers revealed RMS differences of 1 to 5 cm s-1 for both radial and Cartesian current components. Regression analyses indicated slopes close to unity with small biases between surface and subsurface measurements at 4-m depth in the east-west (u) and north-south (v) components, respectively. Vector correlation coefficients were 0.9 with complex phases of -3° and 5° at EC4 (20-m isobath) and NA2 (25-m isobath) moorings, respectively. Complex surface circulation patterns were observed that included tidal and wind-driven currents over the west Florida shelf. Tidal current amplitudes were 4 to 5 cm s-1 for the diurnal and semidiurnal constituents. Vertical structure of these tidal currents indicated that the semidiurnal components were predominantly barotropic whereas diurnal tidal currents had more of a baroclinic component. Tidal currents were removed from the observed current time series and were compared to the 10-m adjusted winds at a surface mooring. Based on these time series comparisons, regression slopes were 0.02 to 0.03 in the east-west and north-south directions, respectively. During Tropical Storm Henri's passage on 5 September 2003, cyclonically rotating surface winds forced surface velocities of more than 35 cm s-1 as Henri made landfall north of Tampa Bay, Florida. These results suggest that the WERA measured the surface velocity well under weak to tropical storm wind conditions.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, v. 24, issue 3, p. 484-503