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Argos DCS System Use Agreement of the Month – August 2013

University of Western Australia
Ocean Response to Tropical Cyclones


Tropical cyclones (TC) are a dominant physical forcing feature during the summer months on the Australian North West Shelf (NWS). This project, funded by an ARC linkage grant with Woodside Energy Limited, aims at using field observations to develop & test a numerical ocean model that can accurately predict the ocean response to tropical cyclone forcing on the Australian NWS. Specifically, the objectives of the proposal are to:
(1) Characterise the spatial and temporal variability of the ocean response to tropical cyclones from detailed field observations.
(2) Use historical field data and new dedicated measurements to develop and test a cyclonically forced three-dimensional ocean model of the NWS.
(3) Evaluate both the internal ocean response and the surface wave field response under cyclone forcing. The internal response will include elucidating the vertical and horizontal mixing, and the currents generated over the entire water column by the wind and waves, particularly assessing the near-bottom currents.
(4) Apply the numerical model to predict the ocean behaviour under extreme tropical cyclone scenarios.
Overall this will lead to a step-change in industry response to the hazards imposed by tropical cyclones.

The field experiment conducted in the cyclone season 2013-2014 will consist of two subsurface water column moorings (measuring currents & density stratification), in depth of 90 and 370m, off the coast of Karratha. The instrument arrays will enable the measurement of both mean & turbulent properties, including the intensity of turbulent stirring and the baroclinic & barotropic energy fluxes. The vertical density structure at each station will be measured using thermistors (Seabird Electronics SBE39) distributed at 10m intervals along anchored mooring lines suspended by a sub-surface buoy. Through water column vertical current profiles will be measured with RD instruments acoustic Doppler current profilers. Acoustic Doppler velocimeters (ADV, Nortek Vector) will be positioned at depths of 40m and 75m to measure turbulence quantities. To capture the TC influence on the density structure at a higher spatial resolution, we will locate three additional thermistor strings, each with thermistors distributed vertically at 10m intervals. Five Sercel Argos beacons are expected to help with the recovery of the five moorings.

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