Project Details

Comprehensive Gulf Stream Ocean Energy Resource Assessment Using and Integrated Observing and Modeling Approach (FY19)

Sponsor: UNC Coastal Studies Institute

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University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: John Bane, Sara Haines
University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute: Mike Muglia

Funding Period

July 2018 – June 2019


Supported by the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NC ROEP), our team has been developing an integrated Observing-Modeling Prediction and Assessment System to guide the optimal extraction of ocean kinetic energy from the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina. Model development is being conducted at NC State under the direction of PI R. He. To inform the model, M. Muglia of the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, under NC ROEP support to the CSI, continues making regional oceanographic observations to provide a crucial dataset to validate and refine NC State’s ocean circulation model. This ocean model fills data gaps and provides temporally and spatially continuous, four-dimensional (x, y, z, t) circulation fields, which have supported the analyses of the Gulf Stream’s energy generation potential (including the magnitude of energy available and its variations in time and space) that co-PI J. Bane and his team at UNC have been conducting.

Our proposed efforts during the 2018-19 project year will be to further develop our observing and predictive capability by

  • refining the multi-level nesting modeling techniques
  • implementing advanced ocean data assimilation capability into our prediction model
  • with these improvements, expanding our ocean model simulations into 2018-2019
  • conducting model-observation comparisons to assess model skill
  • employing detailed statistical analyses of observed and modeled currents and other ocean state variables to better understand the structure (especially vertical structure of the
    horizontal currents) and time variability (especially current reversals, and rapidly varying currents due to tides, internal waves and turbulence bursts) associated with the Gulf Stream.

Our work will enable us to produce the best available quantitative descriptions of numerous aspects of the ocean environment that relate to power generation in the Gulf Stream along the NC continental slope and outer continental shelf. The resulting information will be very valuable in engineering considerations, array design, and environmental assessment; and it will develop an improved understanding of the character and causes of the current variability in this region.