Understanding how ocean conditions vary in place and time - the ocean "climate" (i.e. the heights, frequency and direction of wave approach; variations in the strength and direction of ocean currents; and, variations in the heights of the tide) offshore any coastline is critically important to the operation and safety of ships working out on the ocean, whether they are fishing boats operating close in to the coast or large container ships travelling across the expanse of the ocean. Besides the maritime industry, information on ocean conditions is important to many other marine stakeholders including coastal residents (be it for recreation or in preparation for a major storm), engineers (e.g. for wave energy extraction or jetty rehabilitation) and by coastal scientists for understanding hazards (e.g. risk from wave runup and overtopping and/or erosion adjacent to property).
The objective of the Maritime Operations web app is to provide easy access to a suite of existing datasets (observations and model overlays and tools) that are pertinent to the maritime/fishing community. This initial release includes model results derived from a combined NOAA/OSU WaveWatch III wave model that includes high resolution nearshore bathymetry (i.e. inclusion of banks, canyons, etc) and shallow water physics enabling improved forecasting capabilities of surface wave conditions across the continental shelf and in the nearshore, offshore the Oregon and southwest Washington coast. To assist with the model overlay, we have developed a series of "virtual" wave stations located near the 75ft bathy contour and spaced ~0.6 miles apart. Users can access a variety of information at each of these nodes, including the forecast significant wave height (out to 84 hours into the future), wave direction, peak period. In time, we intend to add a "situational awareness" capability to the web app, enabling the user to view recent observations for a common variable, across multiple observation sensors, along with information from specific NDBC buoys and tide gauge stations.
Figure 1: Forecast wave conditions for 0400 hours on February 23, 2013 showing the effects of a major storm event offshore the mouth of the Columbia River. Yellow dots represent the locations of the virtual wave station locations.
Figure 2: Plot showing the forecast time series of waves offshore the Oregon coast for the period 22-25 February, 2013. Wave conditions over this 3-day period are forecast to increase to ~26 ft at this particular node location. Selecting the various parameters on the right of the plot will allow the user to view other pertinent time series information.