Ocean circulation in Prince William Sound is driven by an intricate mixture of buoyancy, wind, tidal, and remote forcing. A research team led by Dr. Yi Chao from the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and including Dr. Xavier Capet from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has developed a Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) for the Sound that can forecast surface currents, tides, and temperatures, as well as track waterborne nutrients or pollutants. The image shown here is a ROMS prediction of sea surface temperature in Prince William Sound. The 2009 Field Experiment will determine the accuracy of ROMS forecasts. For more information on the ROMS model, check out http://www.aoos.org/fieldexp/tools/ocean.html
Right now, JPL ROMS team is working hard to get ready for the daily ROMS prediction of the Prince William Sound 3D circulation and tides. You can find the most updated ROMS prediction at the JPL web page: http://ourocean.jpl.nasa.gov/PWS. The team plans to post a six-hourly "nowcast" and the 48-hour forecast daily on this webpage, so check-in as often as possible!
Currently, the JPL ROMS team is creating their forecast based only on satellite measurement of sea surface temperature from national centers. Once the HF Radar installations start sending data to the team in California, they will assimilate them into ROMS so that the nowcast and forecast can be improved. Once drifters are deployed in the Sound, they can start comparing the actual ocean circulation with the ROMS model prediction.
A good ROMS ocean circulation forecast depends heavily on an accurate atmospheric forecast, including wind, air-sea heat flux, and rainfall. Working with Professor Peter Olsson at UAA, the ROMS team will also display real-time comparisons between the observed wind and predicted wind (generated by another model called the Weather Research and Forecasting model, or WRF) to assess the accuracy of the atmospheric wind prediction.