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Numerical Study of Circulation and Hydrodynamic Connectivity on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System using a Nested-Grid Ocean Circulation Model
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A nested-grid ocean circulation modelling system was used to examine the impact of category-5 Hurricane Mitch on the upper ocean of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) in October 1998. The nested-grid system uses the two-way nesting technique based on the semi-prognostic method and has a coarse-resolution ( similar to 19 km) outer sub-model covering the western Caribbean Sea (WCS), an intermediate-resolution ( similar to 6 km) middle sub-model covering the MBRS, and a fine-resolution ( similar to 2 km) inner submodel covering the northern coast of Honduras and the Bay Islands. The nested-grid system was forced by 6 hourly NCEP/NCAR winds for the first 294 days prior to the arrival of the hurricane in the MBRS, and then by the combination of the NCEP/NCAR wind forcing and an idealized vortex representative of Mitch for the following 20 days. The system was also forced by the monthly mean sea surface heat and freshwater fluxes and buoyancy forcing associated with major river discharges and storm-induced precipitation in the WCS. The simulated upper-ocean circulation during Mitch is characterized by strong and divergent currents under the storm and intense near-inertial currents and sea surface temperature cooling behind the storm. The nested-grid system also reproduced the buoyant estuarine plumes extending from the coast off Honduras as inferred from SeaWiFS satellite data. The model-calculated currents were used to the trajectories of near-surface particles that are carried passively by the ocean currents. The model results demonstrate that larger-than-normal dispersion and hydrodynamic connectivity in the MBRS during Mitch.
Sheng, J.. "Numerical Study of Circulation and Hydrodynamic Connectivity on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System using a Nested-Grid Ocean Circulation Model."