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Characterizing the Impact of Underwater Glider Observations on the Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM) in the Gulf Stream Region

Kyle Kausch, S.M., 2021
Robert Todd, Advisor

As the western boundary current of the North Atlantic, the Gulf Stream is a well-established area of interest for the United States Navy, predominately due to its proximity to the continental shelf and the associated challenges of acoustic propagation across large property gradients. Autonomous underwater gliders conduct routine, high-resolution surveys along the U.S. East Coast, including within the Gulf Stream. These observations are assimilated into the operational Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM). An investigation of the forecast-to-nowcast changes in the model for 2017 demonstrates the impact of the observations on the model. The magnitude of model change as a function of distance from nearest new observation reveals relatively large impact of glider observations within a radius of O(100) km. Glider observations are associated with larger local impact than Argo data, likely due to glider sampling focusing on large spatial gradients. Due to the advective nature of the Gulf Stream system, the impact of glider observations in the model is anisotropic with larger impacts extending downstream from observation locations. Forecast-to-nowcast changes in modeled temperature, salinity, and density result in improved agreement between observed and modeled ocean structure within the upper 200 m over the 24 hours between successive model runs.