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Verdy, A, Mazloff MR, Cornuelle BD, Kim SY.  2014.  Wind-driven sea level variability on the California coast: An adjoint sensitivity analysis. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 44:297-318.   10.1175/jpo-d-13-018.1   AbstractWebsite

Effects of atmospheric forcing on coastal sea surface height near Port San Luis, central California, are investigated using a regional state estimate and its adjoint. The physical pathways for the propagation of nonlocal [O(100 km)] wind stress effects are identified through adjoint sensitivity analyses, with a cost function that is localized in space so that the adjoint shows details of the propagation of sensitivities. Transfer functions between wind stress and SSH response are calculated and compared to previous work. It is found that (i) the response to local alongshore wind stress dominates on short time scales of O(1 day); (ii) the effect of nonlocal winds dominates on longer time scales and is carried by coastally trapped waves, as well as inertia-gravity waves for offshore wind stress; and (iii) there are significant seasonal variations in the sensitivity of SSH to wind stress due to changes in stratification. In a more stratified ocean, the damping of sensitivities to local and offshore winds is reduced, allowing for a larger and longer-lasting SSH response to wind stress.

Kim, SY, Cornuelle BD, Terrill EJ, Jones B, Washburn L, Moline MA, Paduan JD, Garfield N, Largier JL, Crawford G, Kosro PM.  2013.  Poleward propagating subinertial alongshore surface currents off the US West Coast. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118:6791-6806.   10.1002/jgrc.20400   AbstractWebsite

The network comprising 61 high-frequency radar systems along the U.S. West Coast (USWC) provides a unique, high resolution, and broad scale view of ocean surface circulation. Subinertial alongshore surface currents show poleward propagating signals with phase speeds of O(10) and O(100-300) kmd-1 that are consistent with historical in situ observations off the USWC and that can be possibly interpreted as coastally trapped waves (CTWs). The propagating signals in the slow mode are partly observed in southern California, which may result from scattering and reflection of higher-mode CTWs due to curvature of shoreline and bathymetry near Point Conception, California. On the other hand, considering the order of the phase speed in the slow mode, the poleward propagating signals may be attributed to alongshore advection or pressure-driven flows. A statistical regression of coastal winds at National Data Buoy Center buoys on the observed surface currents partitions locally and remotely wind-forced components, isolates footprints of the equatorward propagating storm events in winter off the USWC, and shows the poleward propagating signals year round.

Powell, BS, Kerry CG, Cornuelle BD.  2013.  Using a numerical model to understand the connection between the ocean and acoustic travel-time measurements. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 134:3211-3222.   10.1121/1.4818786   AbstractWebsite

Measurements of acoustic ray travel-times in the ocean provide synoptic integrals of the ocean state between source and receiver. It is known that the ray travel-time is sensitive to variations in the ocean at the transmission time, but the sensitivity of the travel-time to spatial variations in the ocean prior to the acoustic transmission have not been quantified. This study examines the sensitivity of ray travel-time to the temporally and spatially evolving ocean state in the Philippine Sea using the adjoint of a numerical model. A one year series of five day backward integrations of the adjoint model quantify the sensitivity of travel-times to varying dynamics that can alter the travel-time of a 611 km ray by 200 ms. The early evolution of the sensitivities reveals high-mode internal waves that dissipate quickly, leaving the lowest three modes, providing a connection to variations in the internal tide generation prior to the sample time. They are also strongly sensitive to advective effects that alter density along the ray path. These sensitivities reveal how travel-time measurements are affected by both nearby and distant waters. Temporal nonlinearity of the sensitivities suggests that prior knowledge of the ocean state is necessary to exploit the travel-time observations. (C) 2013 Acoustical Society of America.

Kim, SY, Terrill EJ, Cornuelle BD, Jones B, Washburn L, Moline MA, Paduan JD, Garfield N, Largier JL, Crawford G, Kosro PM.  2011.  Mapping the U.S. West Coast surface circulation: A multiyear analysis of high-frequency radar observations. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 116   10.1029/2010jc006669   AbstractWebsite

The nearly completed U. S. West Coast (USWC) high-frequency radar (HFR) network provides an unprecedented capability to monitor and understand coastal ocean dynamics and phenomenology through hourly surface current measurements at up to 1 km resolution. The dynamics of the surface currents off the USWC are governed by tides, winds, Coriolis force, low-frequency pressure gradients (less than 0.4 cycles per day (cpd)), and nonlinear interactions of those forces. Alongshore surface currents show poleward propagating signals with phase speeds of O(10) and O(100 to 300) km day(-1) and time scales of 2 to 3 weeks. The signals with slow phase speed are only observed in southern California. It is hypothesized that they are scattered and reflected by shoreline curvature and bathymetry change and do not penetrate north of Point Conception. The seasonal transition of alongshore surface circulation forced by upwelling-favorable winds and their relaxation is captured in fine detail. Submesoscale eddies, identified using flow geometry, have Rossby numbers of 0.1 to 3, diameters in the range of 10 to 60 km, and persistence for 2 to 12 days. The HFR surface currents resolve coastal surface ocean variability continuously across scales from submesoscale to mesoscale (O(1) km to O(1000) km). Their spectra decay with k(-2) at high wave number (less than 100 km) in agreement with theoretical submesoscale spectra below the observational limits of present-day satellite altimeters.

Kim, SY, Cornuelle BD, Terrill EJ.  2010.  Decomposing observations of high-frequency radar-derived surface currents by their forcing mechanisms: Decomposition techniques and spatial structures of decomposed surface currents. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 115   10.1029/2010jc006222   AbstractWebsite

Surface current observations from a high-frequency radar network deployed in southern San Diego are decomposed according to their driving forces: pure tides and their neighboring off-band energy, local winds, and low frequency. Several superposed ocean responses are present as a result of the complicated bottom topography and relatively weak winds off southern San Diego, as opposed to coastal regions where circulation can be explained by a dominant forcing mechanism. This necessitates an application of a statistical decomposition approach. Surface currents coherent with pure tides are calculated using harmonic analysis. Locally wind-driven surface currents are estimated by regression of observed winds on observed surface currents. The dewinded and detided surface currents are filtered by weighted least-squares fitting assuming white noise and three colored signal bands: low-frequency band (less than 0.4 cycles per day) and near-tidal peaks at the diurnal (K-1) and semidiurnal (M-2) frequencies. The spatial and temporal variability of each part of the decomposed surface currents is investigated in terms of ocean response to the driving forces. In addition, the spatial correlations of individual components exhibit Gaussian and exponential shapes with varying decorrelation length scales.

Kim, SY, Cornuelle BD, Terrill EJ.  2010.  Decomposing observations of high-frequency radar-derived surface currents by their forcing mechanisms: Locally wind-driven surface currents. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 115   10.1029/2010jc006223   AbstractWebsite

The wind impulse response function and transfer function for high-frequency radar-derived surface currents off southern San Diego are calculated using several local wind observations. The spatial map of the transfer function reflects the influence of the coast on wind-current dynamics. Near the coast (within 20 km from the shoreline), the amplitudes of the transfer function at inertial and diurnal frequencies are reduced due to effects of coastline and bottom bathymetry. Meanwhile, the amplitude of low-frequency currents increases near the coast, which is attributed to the local geostrophic balance between cross-shore pressure gradients against the coast and currents. Locally wind-driven surface currents are estimated from the data-derived response function, and their power spectrum shows a strong diurnal peak superposed on a red spectrum, similar to the spectra of observed winds. Current magnitudes and veering angles to a quasi-steady wind are typically 2-5% of the wind speed and vary 50 degrees-90 degrees to the right of the wind, respectively. A wind skill map is introduced to present the fractional variance of surface currents explained by local winds as a verification tool for wind data quality and relevance. Moreover, the transfer functions in summer and winter are presented to examine the seasonal variation in ocean surface current response to the wind associated with stratification change.

Hoteit, I, Cornuelle B, Kim SY, Forget G, Kohl A, Terrill E.  2009.  Assessing 4D-VAR for dynamical mapping of coastal high-frequency radar in San Diego. Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans. 48:175-197.   10.1016/j.dynatmoce.2008.11.005   AbstractWebsite

The problem of dynamically mapping high-frequency (HF) radar radial velocity observations is investigated using a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model of the San Diego coastal region and an adjoint-based assimilation method. The HF radar provides near-real-time radial velocities from three sites covering the region offshore of San Diego Bay. The hydrodynamical model is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology general circulation model (MITgcm) with 1 km horizontal resolution and 40 vertical layers. The domain is centered on Point Loma, extending 117 km offshore and 120 km alongshore. The reference run (before adjustment) is initialized from a single profile of T and S and is forced with wind data from a single shore station and with zero heat and fresh water fluxes. The adjoint of the model is used to adjust initial temperature, salinity, and velocity, hourly temperature, salinity and horizontal velocities at the open boundaries, and hourly surface fluxes of momentum, heat and freshwater so that the model reproduces hourly HF radar radial velocity observations. Results from a small number of experiments suggest that the adjoint method can be successfully used over 10-day windows at coastal model resolution. It produces a dynamically consistent model run that fits HF radar data with errors near the specified uncertainties. In a test of the forecasting capability of the San Diego model after adjustment, the forecast skill was shown to exceed persistence for up to 20 h. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Moore, AM, Arango HG, Di Lorenzo E, Miller AJ, Cornuelle BD.  2009.  An Adjoint Sensitivity Analysis of the Southern California Current Circulation and Ecosystem. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 39:702-720.   10.1175/2008jpo3740.1   AbstractWebsite

Adjoint methods of sensitivity analysis were applied to the California Current using the Regional Ocean Modeling Systems (ROMS) with medium resolution, aimed at diagnosing the circulation sensitivity to variations in surface forcing. The sensitivities of coastal variations in SST, eddy kinetic energy, and baroclinic instability of complex time-evolving flows were quantified. Each aspect of the circulation exhibits significant interannual and seasonal variations in sensitivity controlled by mesoscale circulation features. Central California SST is equally sensitive to wind stress and surface heat flux, but less so to wind stress curl, displaying the greatest sensitivity when upwelling-favorable winds are relaxing and the least sensitivity during the peak of upwelling. SST sensitivity is typically 2-4 times larger during summer than during spring, although larger variations occur during some years. The sensitivity of central coast eddy kinetic energy to surface forcing is constant on average throughout the year. Perturbations in the wind that align with mesoscale eddies to enhance the strength of the circulation by local Ekman pumping yield the greatest sensitivities. The sensitivity of the potential for baroclinic instability is greatest when nearshore horizontal temperature gradients are largest, and it is associated with variations in wind stress concentrated along the core of the California Current. The sensitivity varies by a factor of similar to 1.5 throughout the year. A new and important aspect of this work is identification of the complex flow dependence and seasonal dependence of the sensitivity of the ROMS California Current System (CCS) circulation to variations in surface forcing that was hitherto not previously appreciated.