New Wave Forecasts for the Mariana Islands and American Samoa


New Wave Forecasts for the Mariana Islands and American Samoa

With funding support from the Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program, PacIOOS has developed new wave model grids for two parts of the Pacific Islands region: 1.) Manu’a Islands in American Samoa, and 2.) Saipan and Tinian , as well as Rota in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN) model is a high resolution model that helps capture shallow water effects and nearshore coastal dynamics such as refracting, shoaling, and shadowing. The newly developed grids come at a resolution of 275m for the Manu’a Islands, 365m for Saipan and Tinian, and 550m for Rota. All grids generate 5-day forecasts of significant wave height, peak period, and peak direction in hourly intervals and are updated daily. The new forecasts complement the existing PacIOOS regional wave forecasts for the Mariana Islands and Samoa, and high-resolution forecasts for Guam and Tutuila.

The models are configured and produced by co-investigator Dr. Kwok Fai Cheung and his staff within the Department of Ocean and Resources Engineering (ORE) in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Boundary conditions are provided by the wider WaveWatch III model for the respective region.

Professor Yi-Leng Chen, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, also serves as co-investigator on this three-year project to improve and validate the existing suite of atmospheric forecasts through data assimilation and data validation for the three territories.

Reliable forecasts are essential to empower insular communities to make proactive decisions. PacIOOS is working closely with NOAA’s National Weather Service to integrate these enhanced model outputs into internal operational systems, allowing for increased forecasting capabilities and resulting in more accurate forecasts, advisories, and warnings for residents and visitors. All forecasts are freely available to local agencies, organizations, and the general public via the PacIOOS website, PacIOOS’ online mapping platform Voyager, and PacIOOS data services.

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PacIOOS is the first regional association that was certified as a Regional Information Coordination Entity (RICE) by the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Certification provides NOAA and its interagency partners a means to verify that a regional association’s organizational and operational practices, including data management, meet recognized and established standards set by NOAA.