Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
27 Apr 2009
 | 27 Apr 2009

"Scale oriented" embedded modeling of the North-Western Mediterranean in the frame of MFSTEP

C. Estournel, F. Auclair, M. Lux, C. Nguyen, and P. Marsaleix

Abstract. An embedded forecasting system was developed for the North-Western Mediterranean at 3-km resolution. The system is based on the Symphonie hydrodynamic free surface model and on the variational initialization and forcing platform VIFOP. The regional model is initialized and forced at its open lateral boundaries by the MFS GCM and forced at the surface by the ALADIN numerical weather prediction model. Once a week, a five-day forecast is produced after a hindcast of seven days. This pre-modeling period of 7 days before beginning the forecast allows the development of the small scale features associated to the high resolution. The relevance of the 5-day forecast strategy has been examined by comparing the forecasted fields to hindcast fields (forced by meteorological and oceanic analyses) considered as a reference. Mismatches remain at a very low level indicating a good quality of the forecasted forcing fields and also possibly to the strong wind conditions which prevailed during the period. The embedded forecasts have been compared to the MFS observing system (SST and MedArgo) during 6 forecast cycles between September 2004 and February 2005. It was basically found that in the North-Western Mediterranean, the MFS basin-scale model and thus the regional model forecasts are characterized by large negative biases of salinity in the first 100 m under the surface leading thus to too light subsurface waters. The underestimation of temperature by the regional model just below the surface and its overestimation at 30m deep can be attributed to an overestimation of the turbulent mixing. The regional model allows to represent a number of processes especially those induced by the wind as coastal upwelling under stratified conditions, dense water formation over the Gulf of Lion shelf, deep mixing in the convection zone or influence on the Northern Current penetration in the Gulf of Lion.