Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Robert Weisberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lianyuan Zheng, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yonggang Liu, Ph.D.


HF Radar, Surface Drifter, SLDMB, Skill Score


The Coast Guard conducts over 20,000 search and rescue cases a year with approximately 5% of them occurring within the coastal waters of the West Florida Shelf (WFS). Each search effort is planned using the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS) which uses model inputs to create composite probability distributions based on the results of Monte Carlo projections of thousands of particle trajectories. However, SAROPS is limited by the quality of model inputs and their associated errors. This study utilizes observations from three surface drifter deployments on the WFS to evaluate the effectiveness of available surface current models, including one model not currently in use by the Coast Guard. Additionally, the performance of high-frequency (HF) Radar observations is evaluated against the models. The HF Radar root-mean-square errors (RMSE) were found to be on the order of 10 cm/s, and a model created with objectively mapped HF Radar data was found to out-perform all available models. Additionally, a comparison of model skills (using a normalized Lagrangian separation method) showed the West Florida Coastal Ocean Model (WFCOM) to have better skill on both the inner and outer shelf regions of the WFS when compared to other models.

Included in

Oceanography Commons