Evaluation of a coastal ocean circulation model for the Columbia river plume in summer 2004

Yonggang Liu, Parker MacCready, Barbara M. Hickey, Edward P. Dever, P. Michael Kosro, Neil S. Banas

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99 Citations (Scopus)


Realistic hindcast of the Columbia River estuarine-plume-shelf circulation in summer 2004 using the Regional Ocean Modeling System nested within the Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM) is quantitatively evaluated with an extensive set of observations. The model has about equal skill at tidal and subtidal properties. Tidal circulation, and water properties are best simulated in the estuary, which is strongly forced and damped, but worst on the shelf. Subtidal currents are again best in the estuary. However, subtidal temperature and salinity are best simulated in the surface waters on the shelf, even inside the river plume. A comprehensive skill assessment method is proposed to evaluate the cross-scale modeling system, with a focus on the plume. The model domain is divided into five dynamical regions: estuary, near- and far-field plume, near surface and deep layers. A. skill score is obtained for each, region by averaging the skills of different physical variables, and an overall skill is obtained by averaging the skills across the five regions. This weighting metric results in more skill weight per unit volume in the near surface layer where the plume is trapped and in the estuary. It is also demonstrated, through model/data comparison and skill assessment, that by nesting within NCOM, some important remote forcing, e.g., coastal trapped waves, are added to our model; on the other hand, some biases are also received. With a finer grid and more realistic forcing, our regional model, improves skill over a larger-scale model in modeling the shelf-plume circulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberC00B04
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue numberC2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2009


  • numerical modeling
  • model evaluation
  • Columbia River plume
  • coastal ocean circulation model


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