Use of 'velocity projection' to estimate the variation of sea-surface height from HF Doppler radar current measurements

G. O. Marmorino, C. Y. Shen, T. E. Evans, G. J. Lindemann, Z. R. Hallock, L. K. Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The technique of 'velocity projection' (J. Geophys. Res. 106 (2001) 6973) is used to estimate the sea-surface height field and its change over time from measurements of surface velocity made using a shore-based HF Doppler radar over a 30×30-km region of the continental shelf located near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay (USA). Projected current profiles are compared with measured currents from an array of acoustic Doppler current profilers, and the consistency and sensitivity of the projections to model assumptions are also examined. Using projected values of the local surface slope, a model sea-surface η(x,y) is least-squares fit over the study region at each measurement time. The error associated with these fits provides an internal check on the validity of the projection results. The slope of the model sea-surface shows a set-up toward the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay during downwelling-favorable winds and a counterclockwise rotation over the tidal cycle that is consistent with linear, shallow-water dynamics. A time series of sea-level difference extracted from the η maps shows a dominant M 2 tidal signal that compares well with measurements of bottom pressure made at two moorings. With proper attention to limits of applicability, such projection-based sea-surface slope fields (as well as other projection results) may be useful in diagnostic calculations or as nowcasts for use with prognostic models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-374
Number of pages22
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Current profiles
  • HF doppler radar
  • Nowcasts
  • Sea-surface slope
  • Velocity projection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology


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