Coastal ocean forecasting with an unstructured grid model in the southern Adriatic and northern Ionian seas
- 1Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici – Ocean Predictions and Applications, via Augusto Imperatore 16, 73100 Lecce, Italy
- 2Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Via Donato Creti 12, 40100 Bologna, Italy
- 3Universitá degli Studi di Bologna, viale Berti-Pichat, 40126 Bologna, Italy
- 4Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Ambientale, del Territorio, Edile e di Chimica, Politecnico di Bari, Via E. Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy
- anow at: NATO Science and Technology Organisation – Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation, Viale San Bartolomeo 400, 19126 La Spezia, Italy
Abstract. SANIFS (Southern Adriatic Northern Ionian coastal Forecasting System) is a coastal-ocean operational system based on the unstructured grid finite-element three-dimensional hydrodynamic SHYFEM model, providing short-term forecasts. The operational chain is based on a downscaling approach starting from the large-scale system for the entire Mediterranean Basin (MFS, Mediterranean Forecasting System), which provides initial and boundary condition fields to the nested system.
The model is configured to provide hydrodynamics and active tracer forecasts both in open ocean and coastal waters of southeastern Italy using a variable horizontal resolution from the open sea (3–4 km) to coastal areas (50–500 m).
Given that the coastal fields are driven by a combination of both local (also known as coastal) and deep-ocean forcings propagating along the shelf, the performance of SANIFS was verified both in forecast and simulation mode, first (i) on the large and shelf-coastal scales by comparing with a large-scale survey CTD (conductivity–temperature–depth) in the Gulf of Taranto and then (ii) on the coastal-harbour scale (Mar Grande of Taranto) by comparison with CTD, ADCP (acoustic doppler current profiler) and tide gauge data.
Sensitivity tests were performed on initialization conditions (mainly focused on spin-up procedures) and on surface boundary conditions by assessing the reliability of two alternative datasets at different horizontal resolution (12.5 and 6.5 km).
The SANIFS forecasts at a lead time of 1 day were compared with the MFS forecasts, highlighting that SANIFS is able to retain the large-scale dynamics of MFS. The large-scale dynamics of MFS are correctly propagated to the shelf-coastal scale, improving the forecast accuracy (+17 % for temperature and +6 % for salinity compared to MFS). Moreover, the added value of SANIFS was assessed on the coastal-harbour scale, which is not covered by the coarse resolution of MFS, where the fields forecasted by SANIFS reproduced the observations well (temperature RMSE equal to 0.11 °C).
Furthermore, SANIFS simulations were compared with hourly time series of temperature, sea level and velocity measured on the coastal-harbour scale, showing a good agreement. Simulations in the Gulf of Taranto described a circulation mainly characterized by an anticyclonic gyre with the presence of cyclonic vortexes in shelf-coastal areas. A surface water inflow from the open sea to Mar Grande characterizes the coastal-harbour scale.