Articles | Volume 7, issue 5
Research article
14 Sep 2011
Research article |  | 14 Sep 2011

Coastal observing and forecasting system for the German Bight – estimates of hydrophysical states

E. V. Stanev, J. Schulz-Stellenfleth, J. Staneva, S. Grayek, J. Seemann, and W. Petersen

Abstract. A coastal observing system for Northern and Arctic Seas (COSYNA) aims at construction of a long-term observatory for the German part of the North Sea, elements of which will be deployed as prototype modules in Arctic coastal waters. At present a coastal prediction system deployed in the area of the German Bight integrates near real-time measurements with numerical models in a pre-operational way and provides continuously state estimates and forecasts of coastal ocean state. The measurement suite contributing to the pre-operational set up includes in situ time series from stationary stations, a High-Frequency (HF) radar system measuring surface currents, a FerryBox system and remote sensing data from satellites. The forecasting suite includes nested 3-D hydrodynamic models running in a data-assimilation mode, which are forced with up-to-date meteorological forecast data. This paper reviews the present status of the system and its recent upgrades focusing on developments in the field of coastal data assimilation. Model supported data analysis and state estimates are illustrated using HF radar and FerryBox observations as examples. A new method combining radial surface current measurements from a single HF radar with a priori information from a hydrodynamic model is presented, which optimally relates tidal ellipses parameters of the 2-D current field and the M2 phase and magnitude of the radials. The method presents a robust and helpful first step towards the implementation of a more sophisticated assimilation system and demonstrates that even using only radials from one station can substantially benefit state estimates for surface currents. Assimilation of FerryBox data based on an optimal interpolation approach using a Kalman filter with a stationary background covariance matrix derived from a preliminary model run which was validated against remote sensing and in situ data demonstrated the capabilities of the pre-operational system. Data assimilation significantly improved the performance of the model with respect to both SST and SSS and demonstrated a good skill not only in the vicinity of the Ferry track, but also over larger model areas. The examples provided in this study are considered as initial steps in establishing new coastal ocean products enhanced by the integrated COSYNA-observations and numerical modelling.