A nested model of the Cariaco Basin (Venezuela): description of the basin’s interior hydrography and interactions with the open ocean

Authors: Alvera-Azcárate, Aida1; Barth, Alexander2; Weisberg, Robert3

Source: Ocean Dynamics, Volume 59, Number 1, February 2009 , pp. 97-120(24)

Publisher: Springer

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A high-resolution (1/60°), three-dimensional numerical circulation model of the Cariaco Basin (Venezuela) is constructed by nesting the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) in the 1/12° global Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM). A new bathymetry, computed by merging DBDB2 data and in situ depth measurements using optimal interpolation, is described. This new bathymetry corrects the depth of the channels that connect the Cariaco Basin with the open ocean and which play a very important role in the basin circulation. Results from a 2004 ROMS hindcast are presented. Observations (temperature, salinity, and currents) are used to validate the model results before using the model to describe the annual cycle of the Cariaco Basin and the interactions between the basin and the open ocean. Two modes of interaction are described, the first being the meanders and eddies that travel westward with the Caribbean Current, and the second being a subsurface eastward current that flows along the north coast of South America. The circulation path within the basin is directly related to the intensity of this current. Both mechanisms described play a role in the ventilation of the basin. The present study is also an example of the feasibility of one of the objectives of GODAE (Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment): downscaling from a large-scale model to a regional model. In particular, the nesting ratio of 5 used in this work demonstrates that a high-resolution model can be successfully nested in HYCOM.

Keywords: Cariaco Basin; Numerical circulation model; Regional Ocean Modeling System

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10236-008-0169-y

Affiliations: 1: Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique, AGO-GHER, University of Liège, Allée du Six Aout, 17, Sart Tilman, Liège, 4000, Belgium, Email: a.alvera@ulg.ac.be 2: Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique, AGO-GHER, University of Liège, Allée du Six Aout, 17, Sart Tilman, Liège, 4000, Belgium 3: College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Avenue South, 33701, Saint Petersburg, Florida, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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