On the performance of high frequency radar in the western Mediterranean during the record-breaking storm Gloria
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Storm Gloria (January 19–24, 2020) hit the NW Mediterranean Sea with heavy rainfall, strong easterly winds, and very high waves, causing structural damages and 13 fatalities. The low-lying Ebro Delta (ED) region was severely inundated, ruining rice fields and seaside promenades. A variety of Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) modeling and observational products were jointly used to examine the fingerprint of Gloria and the response of the upper oceanic layer. According to the results, Gloria can be interpreted as a high-impact once-in-a-decade metocean event where various historical records were beaten. The 99th percentile of several parameters (wind speed, significant wave height, wave period, and surface current velocity), derived from long-term observational time series, was persistently exceeded. The atmospheric surge, albeit not negligible, exerted a secondary role in ED. The ability of a high-frequency radar deployed in this region (HFR-ED) to characterize the striking features of the storm was quantified from both waves and circulation aspects. Consistent radar current observations were subsequently compared against the 5-day-ahead forecast of CMEMS Iberia-Biscay-Ireland (IBI) regional ocean model to determine, from an Eulerian perspective, the strengths and shortcomings in its predictive capabilities. Time-averaged maps of surface circulation, superimposed with fields of Instantaneous Rate of Separation (IROS), were derived to resolve flow features and identify areas of elevated particles dispersion, respectively. The mean and P99 values of IROS almost doubled the historical statistics in the vicinity of the northern Ebro hemidelta. Although IBI predicted moderately well basic features of the storm-induced circulation, results suggests that coastal transport processes, likely modulated by wave-current interactions, were not fully captured. Furthermore, current estimations from other two radar systems, overlooking immediate choke points like the Ibiza Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar, evidenced Gloria’s remote-effect in the anomalous circulation patterns observed, that altered the usual water exchanges between adjacent sub-basins. Finally, three-dimensional outcomes from IBI were used to elucidate the impact of this moving storm at different depth levels. Data analyses illustrated that Gloria caused a large increase in kinetic energy and a significant deepening of the mixed layer depth.
CitationLorente Jiménez, P. [et al.]. On the performance of high frequency radar in the western Mediterranean during the record-breaking storm Gloria. "Frontiers in marine science", Març 2021, vol. 8, p. 645762:1-645762:26.