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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Short summary
In support of the developing ocean renewable energy sector, and indeed all mariners, we have developed a new tidal model for Australian waters and thoroughly evaluated it using a new compilation of tide gauge and current meter data. We show that while there is certainly room for improvement, the model provides useful predictions of tidal currents for about 80 % (by area) of Australian shelf waters. So we intend to commence publishing tidal current predictions for those regions soon.
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2020-107
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2020-107

  11 Dec 2020

11 Dec 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal OS.

Australian tidal currents – assessment of a barotropic model with an unstructured grid

David A. Griffin, Mike Herzfeld, and Mark Hemer David A. Griffin et al.
  • Oceans and Atmosphere, CSIRO, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia

Abstract. While the variations of tidal range are large and fairly well known across Australia (less than 1 m near Perth but more than 14 m in King Sound), the properties of the tidal currents are not. We describe a new regional model of Australian tides and assess it against a validation dataset comprising tidal height and velocity constituents at 615 tide gauge sites and 95 current meter sites. The model is a barotropic implementation of COMPAS, an unstructured-grid primitive-equation model that is forced at the open boundaries by TPXO9v1. The Mean Absolute value of the Error (MAE) of the modelled M2 height amplitude is 9.3 cm, or 13 % of the 73 cm mean observed amplitude. The MAE of phase (11°), however, is significant, so the M2 Mean Magnitude of Vector Error (MMVE, 20 cm) is significantly greater. Results for 5 other major constituents are similar. We conclude that while the model has skill at height in all regions, there is definitely room for improvement (especially at some specific locations) before harmonic predictions based on observations are rendered obsolete. For the M2 major-axis velocity amplitude, the MAE across the 95 current meter sites, where the observed amplitude ranges from 0.1 cm s−1 to 144 cm s−1, is 6.5 cm s−1, or 20 % of the 31.7 cm s−1 observed mean. This nationwide average result is not much greater than the equivalent for height, but it conceals a larger regional variation. Relative errors on the narrow shelves of NSW and Western Australia exceed 100 %, but tidal currents are weak and negligible there compared to non-tidal currents. We show that the model has predictive value for much of the 79 % of Australia's shelf seas where tides are a major component of the total velocity variability. In descending order this includes the Bass Strait, Kimberley to Arnhem Land and Southern Great Barrier Reef regions. There is limited evidence the model is also valuable for currents in other regions across northern Australia. We plan to commence publishing unofficial tidal current predictions for chosen regions in the near future, based on both the limited number of observations, and the COMPAS model.

David A. Griffin et al.

 
Status: open (until 19 Feb 2021)
Status: open (until 19 Feb 2021)
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David A. Griffin et al.

Data sets

AusTEN National Tidal model data. v2 Herzfeld, Mike, Griffin, David, Hemer, Mark, Rosebrock, Uwe, Rizwi, Farhan, and Trenham, Claire https://doi.org/10.25919/nqdc-1v40

David A. Griffin et al.

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Short summary
In support of the developing ocean renewable energy sector, and indeed all mariners, we have developed a new tidal model for Australian waters and thoroughly evaluated it using a new compilation of tide gauge and current meter data. We show that while there is certainly room for improvement, the model provides useful predictions of tidal currents for about 80 % (by area) of Australian shelf waters. So we intend to commence publishing tidal current predictions for those regions soon.
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