Science Meetings

Impact of River Discharge on the California Coastal Ocean Circulation and Variability
Chao, Y., Leiva, J., Farrara, J.D., Zhang, H. (16-Dec-16)

"A real-time California coastal ocean nowcast and forecast system is used to quantify the impact of river discharge on the California coastal ocean circulation and variability. River discharge and freshwater runoff is monitored by an extensive network of stream gages maintained through the U.S. Geological Survey, that offers archived stream flow records as well as real-time datasets. Of all the rivers monitored by the USGS, 25 empty into the Pacific Ocean and contribute a potential source of runoff data. Monthly averages for the current water year yield discharge estimates as high as 6,000 cubic meters per second of additional freshwater input into our present model. Using Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), we performed simulations from October 2015 to May 2016 with and without the river discharge. Results of these model simulations are compared with available observations including both in situ and satellite. Particular attention is paid to the salinity simulation. Validation is done with comparisons to sea glider data available through Oregon State University and UC San Diego, which provides depth profiles along the California coast during this time period. Additional validation is performed through comparisons with sea surface salinity measurements from the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission. Continued testing for previous years, e.g. between 2011 and 2015, is being made using the Aquarius sea surface salinity data. Discharge data collected by the USGS stream gages provides a necessary source of freshwater input that must be accounted for. Incorporating a new runoff source produces a more robust model that generates improved forecasts. Following validation with available sea glider and satellite data, the enhanced model can be adapted to real-time forecasting."