National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Proposal Title: Developing regional ocean modeling capabilities with MOM6 for use in UFS


Principal Investigator: Enrique Curchitser



Avichal Mehra (NOAA/NWS/ECM)

Alistair Adcroft (NOAA/OAR/GFDL)

Robert Hallberg (NOAA/OAR/GFDL)



Nearly 40% of the US population lives in what is considered coastal regions. The economic services of the coastal regions such as shipping, tourism, fisheries, an industry constitute a significant portion of the economy. US waters and exclusive economic zones are characterized by their diversity: from sub-tropical islands (e.g., Hawaii), eastern and western boundary currents (west and east coasts of the continental US), sub-Arctic (e.g., Bering Sea) to the Arctic shelf (e.g., Chukchi Sea). At the same time many of the coastal regions are susceptible to extreme weather events. Providing accurate forecasts to these regions is paramount for the safety of the population and for the economic vitality of coastal areas.


In coastal regions, improving the ocean component of the forecast system can lead both to improved weather forecasts and estimates of impacts such as the ones resulting from storm surge and precipitation events. In this project we propose to continue to develop and implement the regional capabilities of the NOAA GFDL MOM6 ocean circulation model. We put forth a strategy for a robust and holistic coastal and regional modeling capacity within NOAA that efficiently leverages sustained NOAA investments in ocean model development at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. The strategy is designed to provide a lasting and improved capability for fundamental process studies and weather and subseasonal-to-seasonal predictions in coastal systems.


At the core of this strategy is the recent development and adoption by the National Weather Service (NWS) of the Modular Ocean Model 6 (MOM6). MOM6 is the ocean component of the NOAA coupled global climate and earth system models developed at GFDL. It has sea ice and ice-shelf components and a flexible vertical coordinate system capable of adapting for deep ocean or continental shelf needs. After extensive evaluations, MOM6 was chosen to be the ocean component of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Earth System Model (CESM), and National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Unified Forecast System (UFS) efforts, and is being integrated with US Naval research and operations. Over the last two years the Curchitser Lab at Rutgers has been working with the GFDL ocean modeling division on implementing open boundary conditions in MOM6 to support regional, high-resolution configurations. This development is currently being tested.


In this effort, we will develop and deliver to NOAA-EMC high-resolution regional MOM6 models in the Atlantic and pacific oceans that can be used in the Unified Forecast System (UFS) for weather and tropical cyclone modeling. In the process, we will contribute to a suite of models for consistent predictions across space and time scales that can be coupled to the latest atmospheric model developments--MOM6 is part of a coupled AOGCM which is integrated with GFDL’s FV3 dynamical core. This work will directly contribute to the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS) by providing a high-resolution regional ocean model component for improved modeling of tropical cyclone characteristics and address requirements outlined by the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP).