The forecast system is run once a day and produces a 6 day long forecast using the daily initialization fields produced at NAVOCEANO using NCODA (Navy Coupled Ocean Data Assimilation), a 3D multi-variate data assimilation methodology. As configured within RTOFS, HYCOM has a horizontal equatorial resolution of 0.08º or ~9 km.The HYCOM grid is on a Mercator projection from 78.64ºS to 47ºN and north of this it employs an Arctic dipole patch where the poles are shifted over land to avoid a singularity at the North Pole. This gives a mid-latitude (polar) horizontal resolution of approximately 7 km (3.5 km). The coastline is fixed at 10 m isobath with open Bering Straits. This version employs 32 hybrid vertical coordinate surfaces with potential density referenced to 2000 m. Vertical coordinates can be isopycnals, often best for resolving deep water masses, levels of equal pressure (fixed depths), best for the well mixed unstratified upper ocean and sigma-levels (terrain-following), often the best choice in shallow water. The dynamic ocean model is coupled to a thermodynamic energy loan ice model and uses a non-slab mixed layer formulation. The forecast system is forced with 3-hourly momentum, radiation and precipitation fluxes from the operational Global Forecast System (GFS) fields. Results include global sea surface height and three dimensional fields of temperature, salinity, density and velocity fields in NetCDF format.
Several downstream applications of this forecast system will be discussed which include Search and Rescue operations at US Coast Guard, navigation safety information provided by OPC using real time ocean model guidance from Global RTOFS surface ocean currents, operational guidance on radionuclide dispersion near Fukushima using 3D tracers, boundary conditions for various operational coastal ocean forecast systems (COFS) run by NOS etc. NCEP is soliciting input from (potential) users and the modeling community (IOOS and others) to validate the RTOFS system, and to develop metrics appropriate for regional and coastal (downstream) applications to properly guide further development of this modeling system.