Marine Science Faculty Publications

Modeling Air/Sea Flux Parameters in a Coastal Area: A Comparative Study of Results from the TOGA COARE Model and the NOAA Buoy Model

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Air/sea interface, Monin–Obukhov similarity theory, Tampa Bay, Turbulent fluxes, Ultrasonic anemometer

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Because estuaries and coastal regions are particularly susceptible to nutrient over-enrichment due to their close proximity to source-rich regions, a goal of the BRACE study was to improve estimates of nitrogen air/sea transfer rates in the Tampa Bay Estuary. Our objective was to critically evaluate two air/sea gas exchange models to determine their efficacy for use in a coastal region, with the ultimate goal of improving nitrogen exchange estimates in Tampa Bay. We used meteorological data and oceanographic parameters collected hourly at an instrumented tower located in Middle Tampa Bay, Florida. The data was used to determine the friction velocity and the turbulent flux of heat and moisture across the air/sea interface and then compared with modeled parameters at the same offshore site. On average both models underpredicted sensible heat flux and there was considerable scatter in the data during stable conditions, indicating that nitrogen gas exchange rates may also be underestimated. Model improvement, however, was observed with friction velocity comparisons. Model inter-comparisons of sensible heat flux and friction velocity suggest excellent agreement between the TOGA COARE and the NOAA Buoy models, but model estimated heat transfer coefficients and latent heat fluxes did not agree as well. Based on our analysis, we conclude that both models are suitable for use in a coastal environment to estimate nitrogen air/sea gas exchange, although the NOAA Buoy model requires fewer meteorological inputs. However, if the purpose is to conduct more sophisticated microscale modeling of air/sea interactions, we recommend the TOGA COARE model.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Atmospheric Environment, v. 41, issue 20, p. 4291-4303