FY 15 NOPP Funding Announcement – Seamless Forecasting from the Deep Ocean to the Coast

FY ’15 NOPP Funding Announcement

Seamless Forecasting from the Deep Ocean to the Coast

Anticipated Resources:

These efforts are expected to run for three years, with funding available from FY2015 through FY2017/18. A 12-18 month option may be considered at a later date but should not be part of the Base period budget. It is anticipated that up two or three projects may be supported at a level of no more than $500K per year for each multi-investigator proposal. Partnering between Federal, University, and Private research sectors is encouraged but not required.

Topic Description:

Predictive skill in ocean forecasting continues to increase through improvements in model resolution, data assimilation, and better representation/ parameterization of physical processes. While advances in modeling have been achieved for both the open and coastal ocean, the two regions are often not connected or coupled in the operational ocean forecast systems. The Navy has transitioned a global version of the HYCOM ocean model at 1/12° horizontal resolution into operations, and is currently running a tide-resolving 1/25° global ocean model in research mode. While these models enable improved basin-scale ocean forecasts, this spatial resolution does not adequately capture the full range of submesoscale dynamics and small-scale processes that are important in many local and coastal regions. Since processes and dynamics of the open ocean often drive the variability in local and coastal domains, higher-resolution models are often nested within global models to simulate and predict these fine-scale features, with communication occurring through imposed boundary conditions. As global models increase in resolution and complexity, the nesting of regional and coastal models must be done with care to ensure that the appropriate spatiotemporal information is passed through the lateral boundary to allow the finer-scale model to reliably reproduce the salient physical processes and dynamics of the smaller domain.

ONR plans to support multiple projects to explore the fidelity of local ocean forecasts driven by boundary conditions from a global version of the HYCOM ocean model that includes the mesoscale circulation as well as baroclinic and barotropic tides. The physical processes and features present in the global model must propagate into the finer-scale models used for the regional and local forecasts. Often, as the local ocean state evolves in the fine-scale model, mismatches may develop in the outflowing conditions at the lateral boundaries unless two-way coupling is used to ensure that any local water mass variability is appropriately transferred to the global solution. A better understanding of appropriate and practical methods for interfacing between the local and global models is desired.

The scientific and technical areas falling under this effort may include: proper representation of the relevant physics and dynamics across the boundary from global to coastal models, explorations of different boundary condition formulations such as flow-dependent or iterative techniques, and appropriate use of different boundary condition code options depending on scale or purpose. The desire is to explore different methods of two-way lateral nesting between a global ocean forecast model (run at 1/25°) and local or coastal models operating at higher-resolutions (and which may include non-hydrostatic processes) to gain a better understanding of the different nesting methodologies and best practices when seeking improved ocean forecasts at small scales. Of particular interest to ONR at this time are local regions where the following features or physics dominate:

  • Shelf physics – including but not limited to 3D boundary conditions which allow for baroclinic and barotropic tidal flows, mesoscale dynamics, coastal upwelling, coastally trapped Kelvin waves, evolution of shelf break frontal dynamics, shelf fronts, shelf instability dynamics, internal waves, dissipation across the shelf, representation of higher resolution local dynamics, fresh water discharge, estuarine dynamics.
  • Moderate scale topographic physics – including ridges, islands and atolls, which differ from shelf regions in the nature of the surface wave interactions and the basin-scale interactions.
  • Non-hydrostatic physics in deep water – including the evolution/breaking of internal waves, which may require multiple lateral nests (or unstructured grids) to downscale from a global domain to a very small (O(1km)) high-resolution domain that can accurately simulate non-hydrostatic ocean features.

Proposed projects should explore the downscaling for only one of the above physical regimes. As these problems require expertise across multiple disciplines in physical oceanography and numerical modeling, teaming among multiple investigators is highly encouraged to address the wide spectrum of problems.

Planning Letters:

All planning letters should be submitted by email, preferably in PDF form, to Dr. Scott Harper (scott.l.harper@navy.mil), Dr.Terri Paluskiewicz (terri.paluszkiewicz@navy.mil), and to Dr. Reggie Beach (reginald.beach@navy.mil).
Please note “HYCOM Downscaling Planning Letter” in your e-mail subject line.


  • November 14, 2014: Planning letters due to ONR
  • December 1, 2014: Feedback from ONR
  • January 16, 2015, 4 p.m. EST: Last date to submit full proposals via grants.gov

Request for Planning Letters:

Planning letters are requested at this time. Planning letters should be a brief summary of the team’s proposed ideas and work plan that address this topic, and should follow the normal ONR 322 planning letter guidance. ONR will evaluate all planning letters and indicate whether a full proposal would have a reasonable chance of success. Teaming and coordination among PIs is encouraged, but ONR reserves the right to suggest different teaming as expertise and needs dictate, thus each PI’s contribution to the proposed effort should be distinct. Coordination between teams working on different aspects of a Topic Area will be accomplished through annual progress reviews involving all funded participants. These meetings are required in order to share progress and ensure compatibility of approaches, code and documentation. Travel budgets should account for these review and coordination meetings (up to two per year).

Planning Letter Content:

The letter should include:

  • Contact information for the principal and co-investigators, including full mailing address, e-mail address and phone number for each.
  • A maximum 3-page synopsis of the proposed research, including a rationale, questions and/or hypotheses to be addressed, the methods to be used, and anticipated results .
  • An estimated budget, with approximate cost per year.
  • Up to one page of relevant references from the literature.
  • A 1-page biographical sketch for each investigator, with a focus on research activities and publications relevant to the proposed research.