Application of HF radar currents to oil spill modelling

Ana J Abascal, Sonia Castanedo, Raul Medina, Inigo J Losada, Enrique Alvarez-Fanjul
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2009, 58 (2): 238-48
In this work, the benefits of high-frequency (HF) radar currents for oil spill modeling and trajectory analysis of floating objects are analyzed. The HF radar performance is evaluated by means of comparison between a drifter buoy trajectory and the one simulated using a Lagrangian trajectory model. A methodology to optimize the transport model performance and to calculate the search area of the predicted positions is proposed. This method is applied to data collected during the Galicia HF Radar Experience. This experiment was carried out to explore the capabilities of this technology for operational monitoring along the Spanish coast. Two long-range HF radar stations were installed and operated between November 2005 and February 2006 on the Galician coast. In addition, a drifter buoy was released inside the coverage area of the radar. The HF radar currents, as well as numerical wind data were used to simulate the buoy trajectory using the TESEO oil spill transport model. In order to evaluate the contribution of HF radar currents to trajectory analysis, two simulation alternatives were carried out. In the first one, wind data were used to simulate the motion of the buoy. In the second alternative, surface currents from the HF radar were also taken into account. For each alternative, the model was calibrated by means of the global optimization algorithm SCEM-UA (Shuffled Complex Evolution Metropolis) in order to obtain the probability density function of the model parameters. The buoy trajectory was computed for 24h intervals using a Monte Carlo approach based on the results provided in the calibration process. A bivariate kernel estimator was applied to determine the 95% confidence areas. The analysis performed showed that simulated trajectories integrating HF radar currents are more accurate than those obtained considering only wind numerical data. After a 24h period, the error in the final simulated position improves using HF radar currents. Averaging the information from all the simulated daily periods, the mean search and rescue area calculated using HF radar currents, is reduced by approximately a 62% in comparison with the search area calculated without these data. These results show the positive contribution of HF radar currents for trajectory analysis, and demonstrate that these data combined with atmospheric forecast models, are of value for trajectory analysis of oil spills or floating objects.

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