Resource Assessment

Regional Oceanic Modeling

Led by Mingshun Jiang, Ph.D.
Affiliated Home Campus: Harbor Branch
Affiliated Department: Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
In-Person or Remote project


To help identify top locations for deploying OCTs, predict their generated power, and design them for high-energy oceanic environments, it is critical to achieve a high level of resource characterization. Ocean current resource assessment studies off Florida’s East Coast have primarily been based on low resolution oceanic model predictions [1-3] and/or physical oceanographic measurements [2,4-7]. Resource assessments based on lower resolution oceanic models, such as the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) [8], provide data that can be used to map the ocean current resource over large areas, but have been shown to significantly underestimate the magnitude and variability of ocean current resources off Florida and South Africa [2]. Conversely, resource measurements provide a much more accurate measure of the ocean current resource, but are expensive and provide data only at their deployment locations.

This study will characterize dynamic features in the Florida Current through high-resolution nested numerical modeling. A high-resolution (500 m or less) numerical ocean model will be developed and nested in an existing regional model based on the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) for south Florida and the Florida Straits. The child model domain will cover a portion of the northern Florida Straits from Miami to Jacksonville, a highly dynamic area where submesoscale eddies are frequently observed. This group previously collected a significant amount of hydrodynamic data that can be used for model ground-truthing. The REU student will be responsible for developing the child model, running numerical simulations, and calibrating the model results using the measured data. Results will be analyzed to obtain key dynamic characteristics including the energy spectrum, power density, spatial-temporal patterns, and variability. Through this experience participants will gain research experience in ocean modeling, ocean dynamics, statistical analysis, and marine renewal energy. This work is the continuation of a previous REU site effort (see “2019 Projects and Participants” on this website)

[1] J.H. VanZwieten Jr., A.E.S. Duerr, G.M. Alsenas, and H.P. Hanson (2013) “Global ocean current energy assessment: an initial look” in Proc. of the 1st Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS13) hosted by the 6th annual Global Marine Renewable Energy Conference, April 10-11, Washington D.C.

[2] J.H. VanZwieten Jr., I Meyer, and G.M. Alsenas (2014) “Evaluation of HYCOM as a tool for ocean current energy assessment” Proc. of the 2nd Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS14) hosted by the 7th annual Global Marine Renewable Energy Conference, April 15-18, Seattle, Washington

[3] Duerr, Alana E.S., Manhar R. Dhanak and James VanZwieten, (2012) “Utilizing the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model Data for the Assessment of the Florida Current’s Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Resource,” Marine Technology Society Journal, September/October

[4] M.C.P.M. Machado, J.H. VanZwieten, I. Pinos (2016) “A Measurement Based Analyses of the Hydrokinetic Energy in the Gulf Stream” Journal of Ocean and Wind Energy, 3(1):25-30

[5] J.H. VanZwieten, W.E. Baxley, G.M. Alsenas, I. Meyer, M. Muglia, C. Lowcher, J. Bane, M. Gabr, R. He, T. Hudon, R. Stevens, and A.E.S. Duerr, (2015) “Ocean Current Turbine Mooring Considerations,” in Proc. of the Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas, May 4-7, no. OTC-25965-MS

[6] R.E. Raye, (2002) “Characterization Study of the Florida Current at 26.11 north latitude, and 79.50 west longitude for ocean current power generation,” MS Thesis, Florida Atlantic University

[7] W.S. Von Arx, H.B. Stewart, & J.R. Apel, (1974) “The Florida Current as a Potential Source of Useable Energy,” in Proc. of the MacArthur Workshop on the Feasibility of Extracting Usable energy from the Florida Current, Palm Beach Shores, Florida.

[8] HYCOM. (2015). Consortium for Data Assimilative Modeling [Online]. Available:

HBOI ocean fish