Ocean forecasting

The group develops operational short-range forecast configurations of marine systems, where appropriate using marine data assimilation, and observation-based analyses of sea surface temperature and sea ice. Many of the products developed and supported by the team are made freely available via the Copernicus Marine Service.

Applied research supports users of the models and develops decision tools for marine operations based on model outputs.

The research effort is reinforced by a close collaboration with academic groups, including those in the National Partnership for Ocean Prediction (NPOP).

The wave forecasting systems are based upon the National Centres for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) community model WAVEWATCH III®, which allows the Met Office team to contribute to and benefit from the efforts of a worldwide group of research and development scientists.

The Forecast Ocean Assimilation Model (FOAM) is based on the Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean (NEMO) which models the cryosphere (predicting sea ice extent, concentration and thickness), l marine hydrology (predicting currents, temperature and salinity) as well as marine biogeochemistry (predicting marine chemistry and lower trophic level biology). The biogeochemistry for shelf seas is provided by the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM). Both wave and ocean systems have a global capability, with enhanced resolution around the North-West European continental shelf waters that surround the UK.

A storm surge system, also based on NEMO, provides forecasts that support the UK’s prediction and warning systems for flooding.

Marine data assimilation is a vital component in the production of Met Office ocean products. By assimilating observations, we aim to bring ocean prediction systems and observation-based analyses closer to reality. Data assimilation greatly improves our ability to produce accurate forecasts and meaningful reanalyses. We use the NEMOVAR data assimilation system, which we develop jointly with ECMWF, CERFACS and INRIA. Temperature and salinity profiles, sea surface temperature (SST), sea surface height (SSH), sea ice concentration and ocean colour observations are all assimilated into Met Office ocean systems.

The Operational Sea Surface Temperature and Sea Ice Analysis (OSTIA) is the Met Office contribution to the Group for High Resolution Sea Surface Temperature (GHRSST). OSTIA is used to provide weather prediction systems at the Met Office, the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) and elsewhere with accurate sea surface temperature  and sea ice concentration boundary conditions.

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