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NEWS | Oct. 29, 2013

NRL Demonstrates Capabilities of Coupled Oceanic and Atmospheric Prediction Tools at 2013 Navy Fleet Exercise

By Daniel Parry

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientists at the Monterey Marine Meteorology Division and the Stennis Space Center Oceanography Division, with funding provided by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), took part In the Navy fleet experiment TRIDENT WARRIOR 2013 (TW13), July 13-18, demonstrating in-situ atmospheric and oceanic sensing systems and real-time operational mesoscale numerical weather prediction models.

These numerical experiments demonstrate, in real-time, the impact of the observations on tactically relevant environmental features of the ocean battlespace environment, said Dr. James Doyle, head, Mesoscale Modeling Section, Marine Meteorology Division. This is the first time feedback between environmental forecasts and targeted observations has been conducted in both the ocean and atmosphere during a Navy exercise.

Feedback between environmental forecasts and targeted observations has resulted from long-term research at NRL into understanding and developing high-resolution coupled prediction capabilities to diagnose and predict the sensitivity of tactically relevant environmental predictions to observations and develop controlled observation systems.

This unique opportunity provides a better understanding between environmental forecast systems and controlled observing systems in the coastal marine atmospheric boundary layer, adds Dr. Gregg Jacobs, head, Ocean Dynamics and Prediction Branch, Ocean Division. These feedbacks will offer a positive impact on future mesoscale model forecasts and tactical decision aid programs for the Navy.

In collaboration with the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC) located in Monterey, Calif., and the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO) in Stennis, Miss., NRL researchers ran the high-resolution atmospheric, oceanic and coupled prediction systems—Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) and Navy Operational Global Ocean Model (NCOM)—which made use of the NRL Atmospheric Variational Data Assimilation (NAVDAS) and Navy Coupled Ocean Data Assimilation (NCODA) systems. The model suite was used to assimilate routine satellite, surface and sub-surface atmospheric and oceanic observations and special TW13 unmanned aerial, surface and undersea vehicle observations taken during the mid-Atlantic exercise.

NRL further provided an extensive ocean environmental battlespace survey through Naval Air Warfare Center's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Twenty (VX-20) to test the predictability of frontogenesis in the ocean that can block surface acoustic ducting. Also deployed as network tools were ocean gliders provided by NRL, Oregon State University and the Naval Oceanographic Office, and wave buoys from UC-San Diego Scripps Oceanography Institute. NRL researchers assimilated data from these devices to demonstrate near-shore wave prediction systems.

A Scripps ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) provided high-fidelity measurements of the atmospheric boundary layer, sea-breeze fronts, inversions, and other structures that impact the electromagnetic (EM) propagation characteristics. The ScanEagle observations along with radiosonde ascents, Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) kite and buoy observations, and four SHARC (Sensor Hosting Autonomous Remote Craft) Wave Glider unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and surface meteorology data provided additional real-time sensing of EM and coupled boundary layer conditions.

Notable firsts also established during the experiment included the first consistent ocean nesting forecasts from global resolutions, down to near-shore forecasts at Virginia Beach, Va.; high-resolution coupled COAMPS forecasts in real-time that was loosely coupled with wave forecasts; real-time COAMPS adjoint model forecasts at high-resolution in a nested mode used to identify regions where EM predictions may benefit the most from observations; and the first automated control of unmanned underwater ocean gliders targeting unmanned undersea vehicles (UUV) to provide optimal forecasts.

TRIDENT WARRIOR 2013 (TW13) is part of an advanced field experimentation series designed to place new or improved capabilities into the hands of the Fleet for evaluation in an operational environment. The annual venue allows the Navy and its partners to incorporate real-world warfighter feedback early in the acquisition process.

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