Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 31 (2014): 945–966, doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-13-00146.1.
This study investigated the correspondence between the near-surface drifters from a mass drifter deployment near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and the surface current observations from a network of three high-resolution, high-frequency radars to understand the effects of the radar temporal and spatial resolution on the resulting Eulerian current velocities and Lagrangian trajectories and their predictability. The radar-based surface currents were found to be unbiased in direction but biased in magnitude with respect to drifter velocities. The radar systematically underestimated velocities by approximately 2 cm s−1 due to the smoothing effects of spatial and temporal averaging. The radar accuracy, quantified by the domain-averaged rms difference between instantaneous radar and drifter velocities, was found to be about 3.8 cm s−1. A Lagrangian comparison between the real and simulated drifters resulted in the separation distances of roughly 1 km over the course of 10 h, or an equivalent separation speed of approximately 2.8 cm s−1. The effects of the temporal and spatial radar resolution were examined by degrading the radar fields to coarser resolutions, revealing the existence of critical scales (1.5–2 km and 3 h) beyond which the ability of the radar to reproduce drifter trajectories decreased more rapidly. Finally, the importance of the different flow components present during the experiment—mean, tidal, locally wind-driven currents, and the residual velocities—was analyzed, finding that, during the study period, a combination of tidal, locally wind-driven, and mean currents were insufficient to reliably reproduce, with minimal degradation, the trajectories of real drifters. Instead, a minimum combination of the tidal and residual currents was required.
I.R. was supported by the WHOI
Coastal Ocean Institute Project 27040148 and by the
WHOI Access to the Sea Program 27500036. I.R. and
A.K. acknowledge support fromthe NSF project 83264600.
A.K. acknowledges support from the Massachusetts
Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) via the New England
Marine Renewable Energy Center (MREC).
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