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This paper discusses the needs to establish a capability to provide real-time regional ocean forecasts and the feasibility of producing them on an operational basis. Specifically, the development of a Regional Ocean Forecast System using the Princeton Ocean Model (POM) as a prototype and its application to the East Coast of the U.S. are presented. The ocean forecasts are produced using surface forcing from the Eta model, the operational mesoscale weather prediction model at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). At present, the ocean forecast model, called the East Coast-Regional Ocean Forecast System (EC-ROFS) includes assimilation of sea surface temperatures from in situ and satellite data and sea surface height anomalies from satellite altimeters. Examples of forecast products, their evaluation, problems that arose during the development of the system, and solutions to some of those problems are also discussed. Even though work is still in progress to improve the performance of EC-ROFS, it became clear that the forecast products which are generated can be used by marine forecasters if allowances for known model deficiencies are taken into account. The EC-ROFS became fully operational at NCEP in March 2002, and is the first forecast system of its type to become operational in the civil sector of the United States.
The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.