Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 62, Issue 7, pp 1111–1122 | Cite as

Improved statistical prediction of surface currents based on historic HF-radar observations

  • Sergey FrolovEmail author
  • Jeffrey Paduan
  • Michael Cook
  • James Bellingham
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Advances in Search and Rescue at Sea


Accurate short-term prediction of surface currents can improve the efficiency of search-and-rescue operations, oil-spill response, and marine operations. We developed a linear statistical model for predicting surface currents (up to 48 h in the future) based on a short time history of past HF-radar observations (past 48 h) and an optional forecast of surface winds. Our model used empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) to capture spatial correlations in the HF-radar data and used a linear autoregression model to predict the temporal dynamics of the EOF coefficients. We tested the developed statistical model using historical observations of surface currents in Monterey Bay, California. The predicted particle trajectories separated from particles advected with HF-radar data at a rate of 4.4 km/day. The developed model was more accurate than an existing statistical model (drifter separation of 5.5 km/day) and a circulation model (drifter separation of 8.9 km/day). When the wind forecast was not available, the accuracy of our model degraded slightly (drifter separation of 4.9 km/day), but was still better than existing models. We found that the minimal length of the HF-radar data required to train an accurate statistical model was between 1 and 2 years, depending on the accuracy desired. Our evaluation showed that the developed model is accurate, is easier to implement and maintain than existing statistical and circulation models, and can be relocated to other coastal systems of similar complexity that have a sufficient history of HF-radar observations.


Surface current prediction HF-radar Search and rescue Monterey Bay, CA 



We are grateful to the technicians and funding agencies that over the years supported the collection of HF-radar measurements in the Monterey Bay area, especially the State of California’s Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program. The open access to the datasets used in this paper (HF-radar, HF-Radar forecast, COAMPS forecast, and JPL-ROMS forecast) was funded by the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System. We specifically thank Chris Edwards and James Doyle for facilitating access to COMAPS model files. This work was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) under grant (N00014-10-1-0424).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergey Frolov
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jeffrey Paduan
    • 2
  • Michael Cook
    • 2
  • James Bellingham
    • 1
  1. 1.Monterey Bay Aquarium Research InstituteMoss LandingUSA
  2. 2.Naval Postgraduate School, Code OC/PdMontereyUSA
  3. 3.Naval Research LaboratoryUniversity Corporation for Atmospheric ResearchMontereyUSA

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