A data-assimilative model reanalysis of the U.S. Mid Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Maine: Configuration and comparison to observations and global ocean models

TitleA data-assimilative model reanalysis of the U.S. Mid Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Maine: Configuration and comparison to observations and global ocean models
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsWilkin, J, Levin, J, Moore, A, Arango, H, López, A, Hunter, E
JournalProgress in Oceanography
KeywordsBottom temperature, Climatology, Coastal circulation, Data assimilation, Gulf of Maine, Mid Atlantic Bight, Numerical modeling, Sea level

A 15-year reanalysis (2007–2021) of circulation in the coastal ocean and adjacent deep sea of the northeast U.S. continental shelf is described. The analysis uses the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) and four-dimensional variational (4D-Var) data assimilation (DA) of observations from in situ platforms, coastal radars, and satellites. The reanalysis downscales open boundary information from the Copernicus Marine Environmental Monitoring Service (CMEMS) global analysis. The dynamic model is forced by regional meteorological analyses, observed daily river discharges, and harmonic tides that augment the open boundary conditions. A complementary analysis of the mean seasonal cycle of regional circulation, also computed using ROMS 4D-Var but with climatological mean observations and forcing, is used to reduce biases in the CMEMS boundary data and to provide a dynamically and kinematically constrained Mean Dynamic Topography to use in conjunction with the assimilation of satellite altimeter sea level anomaly observations. The configuration of ROMS 4D-Var used is described, presenting details of the comprehensive suite of observations assembled, data pre-processing and quality control procedures, and background and observation error hypotheses. Control variables of the DA are the initial conditions, surface forcing, and boundary conditions of a sequence of non-overlapping 3-day analysis cycles. Comparisons to a non-assimilative version of the same ROMS model configuration show the added skill brought by assimilation of local observations. The improvement that downscaling with assimilation achieves over ocean state estimates from CMEMS and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Global Ocean Forecast System (GOFS) is demonstrated by the reduction in residuals of the DA, and by comparison to independent (unassimilated) observations. Wherever data volumes allow, skill assessments are made with the respect to anomalies from the mean seasonal cycle to emphasize performance at the ocean mesoscale. To highlight the utility of the analysis to inform studies related to coastal sea level variability and marine ecosystems, comparisons are made to unassimilated coastal sea level gauges and novel observations from sensors on fishing gear. The assimilation of coastal satellite altimetry data produces coastal sea level results that are coherent with observations across all time scales from interannual to tidal, while bias and correlation metrics show that bottom temperatures in regions of commercial fishing activity in the Mid-Atlantic Bight and the Gulf of Maine are modeled well.