High-Frequency Radar Mapping of Surface Currents Using Wera

Document Type


Publication Date



Radar observations, Currents, Ocean circulation

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



A dual-station high-frequency Wellen Radar (WERA), transmitting at 16.045 MHz, was deployed along the west Florida shelf in phased array mode during the summer of 2003. A 33-day, continuous time series of radial and vector surface current fields was acquired starting on 23 August ending 25 September 2003. Over a 30-min sample interval, WERA mapped coastal ocean currents over an ≈40 km × 80 km footprint with a 1.2-km horizontal resolution. A total of 1628 snapshots of the vector surface currents was acquired, with only 70 samples (4.3%) missing from the vector time series. Comparisons to subsurface measurements from two moored acoustic Doppler current profilers revealed RMS differences of 1 to 5 cm s-1 for both radial and Cartesian current components. Regression analyses indicated slopes close to unity with small biases between surface and subsurface measurements at 4-m depth in the east-west (u) and north-south (v) components, respectively. Vector correlation coefficients were 0.9 with complex phases of -3° and 5° at EC4 (20-m isobath) and NA2 (25-m isobath) moorings, respectively. Complex surface circulation patterns were observed that included tidal and wind-driven currents over the west Florida shelf. Tidal current amplitudes were 4 to 5 cm s-1 for the diurnal and semidiurnal constituents. Vertical structure of these tidal currents indicated that the semidiurnal components were predominantly barotropic whereas diurnal tidal currents had more of a baroclinic component. Tidal currents were removed from the observed current time series and were compared to the 10-m adjusted winds at a surface mooring. Based on these time series comparisons, regression slopes were 0.02 to 0.03 in the east-west and north-south directions, respectively. During Tropical Storm Henri's passage on 5 September 2003, cyclonically rotating surface winds forced surface velocities of more than 35 cm s-1 as Henri made landfall north of Tampa Bay, Florida. These results suggest that the WERA measured the surface velocity well under weak to tropical storm wind conditions.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, v. 24, issue 3, p. 484-503