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HF Radar Applications for Operational Forecasting of Coastal Regions

Presented at the Eighth International Conference on Remote Sensing for Marine and Coastal Environments, Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada, 17-19 May 2005

Klaus-Werner Gurgel and T. SCHLICK

University of Hamburg, Institute of Oceanography, Bundesstrasse 53, D-20146 Hamburg, Germany.
Tel: +49-40-42838-5742, Fax: +49-40-42838-5713,

A full paper has been published in the conference proceedings.


High-Frequency (HF) radars are operated in the HF band of the radio wave spectrum, i.e.\ between 5 MHz and 30 MHz. Due to the physics involved, these radars are able to look behind the horizon. Signals backscattered from the ocean's surface contain information about currents, ocean wave spectra and wind. Depending on the radar frequency, working ranges up to 150 km can be achieved. As for optimum performance, these radars should be installed at the shore, the term 'Coastal Radar' is often used in this context. Combining HF radar remote sensed data with high-resolution numerical models by data assimilation brings together the advantages of both technologies: The HF radar can provide accurate forcing and boundary conditions to the model and keep the model nowcast 'close to nature', the model can than be used to supply high quality forecasts. For highly variable oceanographic processes, such as mesoscale eddies and fronts, this approach might be the only way to provide reliable now- and forecasts. This leads to a better understanding of the dynamics of coastal processes. The operational forecasting system described above has been set-up and tested within the EU funded project EuroROSE. Comparisons of an HF radar aided model to a free running model showed an increase in correlation for the 4-hour forecast from 0.27 to 0.77 due to data assimilation.
last update 05-APR-2005
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