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Ocean models are complex computer programs that simulate the physical state and dynamic properties of oceans. COAPS uses global and regional models to study processes, such as responses to storms, ocean circulation, and water mass formation, and to improve both short- and long-term forecasts.

ssh katrina

Sea surface temperature and wind direction during Hurricane Katrina modelled using the Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM).

ssh hycom

Analysis of sea surface height using the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM).

Sigsbee Encarpment

The simulated velocity of very strong deep currents in the Sigsbee Escarpment in the northern Gulf of Mexico using NCOM.

Modeling Air-sea Interaction

fluxes sattrack

Fluxes of sensible and latent heat from a warm core seclusion are retrieved from adjacent satellite tracks.

Air-sea interaction focuses on the exchange (or flux) of quantities, such as heat or moisture, across the ocean surface. These exchanges are sensitive indicators of changes in climate, and are directly related to floods, storm surge, droughts, storm intensity, and storm tracks. The FSU in situ and satellite flux products provide ocean surface forcing fields which are well-suited for climate prediction studies. We are also improving air sea fluxes in a coupled model.

In addition to flux product development, COAPS:

  • evaluates biases in flux products developed by colleagues in the U.S. and international communities,
  • examines air-sea heat transfer on shorter time and spatial scales within tropical and mid-latitude cyclones,
  • develops physically-based models for exchange of momentum, heat, and moisture,
  • creates satellite based estimates of the exchange of momentum,
  • investigates the influences of waves on air/sea exchanges, and 
  • investigates changes and feedbacks due to surface oil slicks.

Oceanic Climate Modeling


The above image is generated by HYCOM, a multi-institution (academic, government, and industry) collaborative effort focused on the depiction of the three-dimensional ocean state in near-real time. The hybrid coordinate extends the geographic range of applicability of traditional isopycnic coordinate circulation models toward shallow coastal seas and unstratified parts of the world ocean. The vertical coordinate in HYCOM is isopycnal in the open, stratified ocean, but smoothly reverts to a terrain-following coordinate in shallow coastal regions, and to pressure coordinates in the mixed layer and/or unstratified seas.

COAPS is working with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in building a new version of the Community Climate System model (CCSM) with the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) as the oceanic model. With the CCSM being one of the flagship model in the climate research community, it is of great interest to investigate how the CCSM performs with an oceanic model that uses hybrid vertical coordinates instead of the conventional depth vertical coordinate. Comparisons will be performed between the new CCSM/HYCOM and the standard (CCSM/POP) version. After the validation of the new coupled model, experiments will be conducted to study both climate change (decades to centuries) and climate variability (seasonal to inter-annual). These experiments will include Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) integrations as well as investigation of the response and feedback of the ocean to external climate forcing.

2000 Levy Avenue
Building A, Suite 292
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2741
Phone: (850) 644-4581
Fax: (850) 644-4841

© 2018 Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), Florida State University

Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS)