Ocean Current Forecasting

Operational forecasts of ocean currents

WPC provides operational forecasts of Gulf of Mexico currents to clients in the offshore oil and gas industry. The forecasts are produced using state-of-the-art numerical ocean models initialized with a proprietary data assimilation system, which is capable of processing a wide variety of operational oceanographic data. Aside from publicly available data, such as sea surface temperature and current measurements from offshore installations, WPC’s forecast system utilizes a stream of privately collected ocean measurements, including: surface current measurements gathered by satellite-tracked surface drifters; subsurface temperature and salinity data gathered by satellite-controlled underwater vehicles (gliders) and airplane-deployed expendable bathythermographs; and two dimensional current data collected by survey vessels. The forecast system has shown to have skill up to 30 days. Forecasts are typically updated every week. Special forecasts focusing on specific locations are also produced for clients who conduct operations that are sensitive to ocean currents and weather. Typically, these special forecasts are informed by additional data collected by client-chartered survey vessels.

Analysis of environmental hazards for offshore installations

WPC uses state-of-the-art numerical models to simulate environmental hazards that can be encountered by offshore installations such as oil and gas production platforms or underwater pipelines. Hazards include hurricane-generated currents and waves, currents associated with warm-core eddies (characteristic to the Gulf of Mexico), and storm surge. These numerical simulations are used by naval engineers to establish design criteria for offshore installations.

Oceanographic research

WPC conducts basic oceanographic research funded by the U.S. federal government and private companies. WPC specializes in explaining the fundamental dynamical effects that control the evolution of ocean features, such as warm-core eddies, by using numerical ocean models. Applying a hierarchy of numerical models, appropriate for simulating the phenomena in question, enables us to isolate and quantify the most important effects.