North Atlantic Ocean OSSE system development: Nature Run evaluation and application to hurricane interaction with the Gulf Stream

Vassiliki H. Kourafalou, Yannis S. Androulidakis, George R. Halliwell, Hee Sook Kang, Michael M. Mehari, Matthieu Le Hénaff, Robert Atlas, Rick Lumpkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A high resolution, free-running model has been developed for the hurricane region of the North Atlantic Ocean. The model is evaluated with a variety of observations to ensure that it adequately represents both the ocean climatology and variability over this region, with a focus on processes relevant to hurricane-ocean interactions. As such, it can be used as the “Nature Run” (NR) model within the framework of Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs), designed specifically to improve the ocean component of coupled ocean-atmosphere hurricane forecast models. The OSSE methodology provides quantitative assessment of the impact of specific observations on the skill of forecast models and enables the comprehensive design of future observational platforms and the optimization of existing ones. Ocean OSSEs require a state-of-the-art, high-resolution free-running model simulation that represents the true ocean (the NR). This study concentrates on the development and data based evaluation of the NR model component, which leads to a reliable model simulation that has a dual purpose: (a) to provide the basis for future hurricane related OSSEs; (b) to explore process oriented studies of hurricane-ocean interactions. A specific example is presented, where the impact of Hurricane Bill (2009) on the eastward extension and transport of the Gulf Stream is analyzed. The hurricane induced cold wake is shown in both NR simulation and observations. Interaction of storm-forced currents with the Gulf Stream produced a temporary large reduction in eastward transport downstream from Cape Hatteras and had a marked influence on frontal displacement in the upper ocean. The kinetic energy due to ageostrophic currents showed a significant increase as the storm passed, and then decreased to pre-storm levels within 8 days after the hurricane advanced further north. This is a unique result of direct hurricane impact on a western boundary current, with possible implications on the ocean feedback on hurricane evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalProgress in Oceanography
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology


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