Dr. Philip Bogden
GoMOOS (Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System)
Program Manager: David Mountain NOAA/NMFS/NEFSC
Related NOAA Strategic Plan Goal:
Goal 1. Protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management.
Goal 2. Understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond.
Goal 3. Serve society’s needs for weather and water information.
Goal 4. Support the Nation’s commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation.
In February, GoMOOS development staff met with project manager David Mountain and James Manning of NOAA NEFSC to discuss how best to address the needs of the project. It was determined that the goals of the project could be met by tailoring the product to improve access to wind observations and predictions over the web. Additionally, GoMOOS learned through end user feedback and survey results that this type of information would be valuable to the greater Gulf of Maine community.
Recent inquiry from a GoMOOS user:
“I am sailing the Marblehead to Halifax ocean race this summer and would like to follow the winds over the course for the next few weeks. Is there a graphical product that estimates the current surface wind direction and velocity over that ocean area (Gulf of Maine plus east to Halifax) that I can conveniently access? Thanks for your help.”
As a result of that discussion, the team decided to create a wind forecast product that would utilize available wind speed and direction predictions for a 48-hour forecast product on the GoMOOS website. Point forecasts would be extracted from the model data specific to the GoMOOS and NBDC buoy locations in the Gulf of Maine, as well as provide a forecast to observation comparison plot to gauge the accuracy of the forecast.
To design the display, GoMOOS developers evaluated similar products available on sailing and airline websites for a layout and design approach that would be useful for displaying the large amount of data in a digestible format for a non-scientific user base. It was also determined that a design that incorporated the wave forecast model (WaveWatchIII) already in operation would make the best use of the visual space and give users a greater amount of information in one place. As part of the redesign, the wave forecast was also expanded to include primary direction in addition to wave height and period.
From a technical perspective, it was determined that the NOAA National Center for Environmental Protection (NCEP) model would be the best source for the wind and wave data. Working with James Manning, GoMOOS developers identified three NOAA OPeNDAP servers that provided the forecast. One server provided a forecast at hourly intervals, and the other two provided forecasts at 3-hour intervals. Initial testing revealed two modes of failure that were encountered with the servers:
1) The server was offline
2) The forecast on the server was not updated
Code was developed to extract the desired data from the wind forecast model. Code was also developed to discover and identify the server that was online and had the latest forecast. Additional challenges were encountered in extracting data from the OPeNDAP servers. In order to programmatically interact with the server, a Python package called PYDAP was utilized.
Data is stored on the GoMOOS server, and the product is updated twice daily. It is a fully automated process, but requires manual intervention in the event of failure to acquire the latest data due to server failure.
The Wind and Wave Forecast was completed in early June, and is available as a web-delivered product, available 24 hours, 7 days a week on the GoMOOS.org website at http://www.gomoos.org/waveforecasts/windwaveforecast.html. The user communities that will benefit from this product include mariners, fishermen, scientists, coastal managers, recreational boaters, sailors, surfers and educators.
Summary of Interaction with NOAA
GoMOOS worked closely with project manager Dr. David Mountain and James Manning on this project. Dr. Mountain provided guidance on addressing the specific objectives and needs of the project. James Manning provided guidance to the GoMOOS programming staff on access to OPeNDAP servers, and collaborated on the development of code for the forecast itself.
Summary of Education and Outreach Activity
The Wind and Wave Forecast tool was integrated into the recent release of the upgraded GoMOOS.org website. The website was initially released in beta testing mode in July, and a panel of end users was enlisted to help with testing. Initial feedback on the Wind and Wave Forecast was very positive. The majority of users rated it Good or Excellent for ease of use, value of information presented and relevance to their needs.
Some feedback from the user testing:
“Good service and the Wind and Wave forecast looks like it will be very useful.”
“Wind-wave forecast: this would be very useful to me, I would probably use it on a daily basis.”
In September, the GoMOOS beta website became the operational website. The new wind and wave product is highlighted as a new site feature and highlighted in our news update. We will be using our outreach tool – the GoMOOS Observer newsletter – to alert our user base of all the new features, including the Wind and Wave Forecast. Additionally, we will be reaching out to user groups (e.g. Fishermen’s Forum in March) to alert them of these new products and services.
Additionally, it was determined that the wind forecast would be a useful first step in prototyping a product for our work with the NERACOOS (Northeastern Regional Association for Ocean Observing Systems). One of the products identified as a high priority for coastal managers was a tool to determine the likelihood of harmful algal bloom (HAB) formation given certain environmental conditions. Researchers at the University of Maine have discovered that a relationship exists between wind direction, duration and stress that can create downwelling conditions which appears to be favorable to the formation of HABs during the spring and summer months.
Using available NCEP wind forecast model and buoy gathered wind data; we can generate an alert when the HAB favorable conditions are detected in the forecast
Users (HAB managers, HAB scientists) can then log in to the HAB Potential Index Tool (Figure 3) to view the forecast and get more information.
The HAB Potential Index Tool would be a visual indication of forecast for the next 48 hours and would include observed conditions from the GoMOOS buoy array for accuracy. Alerts will be issued when observed data matches forecast data
The forecast was modified programmatically to detect upcoming conditions – wind speed, direction and duration. If the conditions are met, an alert is generated. We are working with HAB scientists to determine the exact conditions that will trigger the alert. The next step is to develop notification services so that end users (HAB managers) can be alerted via email or SMS text message that these conditions are likely to occur sometime in the next 48 hours.