Optimizing and validating high-frequency radar surface current measurements in the Mona Passage

Mapping of the ocean surface velocity field of the eastern Mona Passage is important due to the fact that the Passage is a major shipping lane to the Panama Canal, as well as a key route for illegal traffic into the United States. As such, two high-frequency radar (HFR) stations have been emplaced along the west coast of Puerto Rico to allow such mapping and to explore its performance in vessel detection and tracking. Coverage of the south-eastern quadrant of the Passage is provided, extending west to Mona Island and north to Rincon. Results were posted online hourly in near real-time, and to optimize these results, antenna beam patterns were measured twice and corrections applied to the resulting radial returns. Validation measurements were undertaken in order to assess the basic capability of the Mona Passage HFR array to measure surface currents in this tropical environment, including repeated deployment of Lagrangian drifters, as well as an acoustic Doppler current profiler, and compared with modeled tidal currents. The experimental measures demonstrated good agreement to both in situ and modeled data, thus lending confidence to the area-wide surface current maps generated by this system. Demonstrating that these are in large part the product of the surrounding environment, repeated measurements showed limited temporal variability of antenna distortion patterns. Comparing experimental Lagrangian trajectories and a numerical particle tracking algorithm showed mixed results, achieving better agreement during periods of low intrahour variability in current direction than during periods of rapid tidal reversal.


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  • Accession Number: 01350075
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 17 2011 11:18AM