Articles | Volume 22, issue 2
01 Jan 2004
 | 01 Jan 2004

Comparison of ECMWF surface meteorology and buoy observations in the Ligurian Sea

R. Bozzano, A. Siccardi, M. E. Schiano, M. Borghini, and S. Castellari

Abstract. Since numerical weather prediction (NWP) models are usually used to force ocean circulation models, it is important to investigate their skill in reproducing surface meteorological parameters in open sea conditions. Near-surface meteorological data (air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction) have been acquired from several sensors deployed on an offshore large spar buoy in the Ligurian Sea (Northern Mediterranean Sea) from February to December 2000. The buoy collected 7857 valid records out of 8040 during 335 days at sea.

These observations have been compared with data from NWP models and specifically, the outputs of the ECMWF analysis in the two grid points closest to the buoy position. Hourly data acquired by the buoy have been undersampled to fit the data set of the model composed by values computed at the four synoptic hours. For each mentioned meteorological parameter an analysis has been performed by evaluating instantaneous synoptic differences, distributions, daily and annual variations and related statistics. The comparison shows that the model reproduces correctly the baric field while significant differences result for the other variables, which are more affected by local conditions. This suggests that the observed discrepancies may be due to the poor resolution of the model that probably is not sufficient to appropriately discriminate between land and ocean surfaces in a small basin such as the Ligurian Sea and to take into account local peculiarities.

The use of time- and space-averaged model data reduces the differences with respect to the in situ observations, thus making the model data usable for analysis with minor requirements about time and space resolution.

Although this comparison is strongly limited and we cannot exclude measurement errors, its results suggest a great caution in the use of the model data, especially at high frequency resolution. They may lead to incorrect estimates of atmospheric forcing into ocean circulation models, causing important errors in those areas, such as the Mediterranean Sea, where ocean circulation is strongly coupled with atmosphere and its high variability.

Key words. Oceanography; general (marginal and semiclosed seas; marine meteorology; numerical modelling)