Very High-Frequency Radar Mapping of Surface Currents

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adcp, coastal ocean circulation, current profiles, surface currents, vhf radar, vortices

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An ocean surface current radar (OSCR) in the very high frequency (VHF) mode was deployed in South Florida Ocean Measurement Center (SFOMC) during the summer of 1999. During this period, a 29-d continuous time series of vector surface currents was acquired starting on 9 July 1999 and ending 7 August 1999. Over a 20-min sample interval, the VHF radar mapped coastal ocean currents over a 7.5 km × 8 km domain with a horizontal resolution of 250 m at 700 grid points. A total of 2078 snapshots of the two-dimensional current vectors were acquired during this time series and of these samples, only 69 samples (3.3%) were missing from the time series. During this period, complex surface circulation patterns were observed that included coherent, submesoscale vortices with diameters of 2 to 3 km inshore of the Florida Current. Comparisons to subsurface measurements from moored and ship-board acoustic Doppler current profiles revealed regression slopes of close to unity with biases ranging from 4 to 8 cm s-1 between surface and subsurface measurements at 3 to 4 m beneath the surface. Correlation coefficients were 0.8 or above with phases of -10 to -20° suggestive of an anticylconic veering of current with depth relative to the surface current. The radar-derived surface current field provided spatial context for an observational network using mooring-, ship- and autonomous underwater vehicle-sensor packages that were deployed at the SFOMC.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, v. 27, issue 2, p. 155-169