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A Relocatable Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean Prediction System

  • Headshot

    Harold (Hal) Ritchie Environment Canada; Dalhousie University

Developing a relocatable forecast system that can be used within hours of a marine emergency (such as a search-and-rescue incident or oil spill) anywhere along Canada’s coastline.

The main project goals are:

  • build and test a coupled atmosphere-ocean forecast system that can be set up within hours of a marine emergency, anywhere in Canadian waters
  • provide short-term forecasts (hours to days)  of the atmosphere and ocean to guide response to a marine emergency
  • develop the ability to assimilate data (e.g., observations from altimeters and gliders) and downscale predictions from larger scale models
  • develop modules for offline prediction of movement and dispersion of plumes of hazardous materials
  • develop parallel mechanisms for rapid appraisal of socio-economic values and risks in coastal areas, including community based approaches

The atmospheric model is a high resolution limited area configuration of the operational Environment and Climate Change Canada Global Environmental Multi-scale (GEM) weather forecast model, and the ocean model is NEMO (Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean) also used by (CONCEPTS).   The project has made considerable progress on research and development for the components and methodologies, and testing and validation well advanced, for both the Strait of Georgia and for the Scotian Shelf (which will be a focus for 2016). Strait of Georgia progress includes 'curating' and vetting oceanographic observations to understand short-term variability, and to provide data for modelers for validation and assimilation.

International collaborations and partnerships have been established, particularly through coordinated and complementary R&D with the Mercator-Océan (France) NEMO developers.  Knowledge and technology exchange are occurring naturally through collaborations with partners, including system development and testing, research publications on new and innovative capabilities and methodologies, and training of highly qualified personnel who are being hired by partners in some cases.  Sharing of codes, expertise and knowledge with other investigators is a mutual benefit of the MEOPAR network approach.


  • Environment Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada - CONCEPTS
  • Ocean Networks Canada
  • Ocean Tracking Network


  • Natasha Bernier
  • Gilbert Brunet Environment Canada
  • Anthony Charles Saint Mary's University
  • Ken Denman University of Victoria
  • Serge Desjardins
  • Richard Dewey University of Victoria
  • Luc Fillion
  • Haibo Niu Dalhousie University
  • Rich Pawlowicz University of British Columbia
  • Mae Seto Dalhousie University
  • Greg Smith Environment Canada
  • Keith Thompson Dalhousie University
  • Doug Wallace MEOPAR
  • Fred Whoriskey


  • Jean-Pierre Auclair Dalhousie University
  • Fatemeh Chegini Dalhousie University
  • Mark Halverson University of British Columbia
  • Anna Katavouta Dalhousie University
  • Tsubasa Kodaira Dalhousie University
  • Erica Rogers Dalhousie University
  • Fred Woslyng Dalhousie University


  • Charles,Anthony,. 2015, Balanced harvesting in fisheries: Economic considerations, ICES Journal of Marine Science, 10.1093/icesjms/fsv161.
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2016, Bioeconomics of ocean acidification effects on fisheries targeting calcifier species: A decision theory approach, Fisheries Research, 176:1-14,
  • Cheung,William,Sumaila,Rashid,. 2016, Canada at a crossroad: The imperative for realigning ocean policy with ocean science, Marine Policy, 63:53-60,
  • Chavanne,Cedric,Halverson,Mark,Pawlowicz,Rich ,. 2017, Dependence of 25-MHz HF radar working range on near- surface conductivity, sea state, and tides, Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 2, 447-462,10.1175/JTECH-D-16-0139.1..
  • Bernier,Natasha,Thompson,Keith,. 2015, Deterministic and Ensemble Storm Surge Prediction for Atlantic Canada with Lead Times of Hours to Ten Days, Ocean Modeling,
  • Fillion,Luc ,Ritchie,Harold (Hal),Jacques, D., Chang W., Baek S-J., Milewski T., Chung K.-O.. 2017, Developing a convective-scale EnKF data assimilation system for the Canadian MEOPAR project, Monthly Weather Review,
  • Katavouta,Anna,Thompson,Keith,. 2016, Downscaling ocean conditions with application to the Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf and adjacent deep ocean, , 104, p54-72,
  • Auclair,Jean-Pierre,Ritchie,Harold (Hal), J.-F. Lemieux., L. B. Tremblay.. 2017, Implementation of Newton’s method with an analytic Jacobian to solve the 1D sea ice momentum equation, J. Comput. Phys, 10.1016/j.jcp.2017.02.065.
  • Katavouta,Anna,Thompson,Keith,. 2016, Interaction between the tidal and seasonal variability of th Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf Region, , 46(11), p1279-3298,
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2015, Key principles of marine ecosystem-based management, Marine Policy, 57:53-60,
  • Niu,Haibo,et al. 2014, Modeling the Effects of Chemical Dispersant on the Fate of Spilled Oil: Case Study of a Hypothetical Spill near Saint John, NB, Water Quality Journal of Canada,
  • Bernier,Natasha,Kodaira ,Tsubasa ,Thompson,Keith,. 2016, Prediction of M2 tidal surface currents by a global baroclinic ocean model and evaluation using observed drifter trajectories, Journal of Geophysical Research, 121(8), p6159-6183,
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2015, Social networks and transitions to co-management in Jamaican marine reserves and small-scale fisheries, Global Environmental Change, 35:213–225,
  • Niu,Haibo,Li, S.H.. 2017, The Effects of Spatial and Temporal Resolutions of Hydrodynamic Model on the Simulated Behaviours of Subsurface Oil Spills in the Marine Environment, International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference,
  • Thompson,Keith,Renkl, C.. 2016, The alongshore tilt of mean dynamic topography and implications for nearshore circulation and regional vorticity balance, EGU General Assembly Conference,
  • Bernier,Natasha,Kodaira ,Tsubasa ,Thompson,Keith,. 2016, The effect of density stratification on the prediction of global surges, Ocean Dynamics, 66(1), p1733-1743.,
  • Thistlethwaite,Jason,. 2016, The emergence of flood insurance in Canada: Navigating competing institutional uncertainty, Risk Analysis,
  • Fillion,Luc ,Kirshbaum,Daniel,Cookson-Hills, P., M. Surcel, J. G. Doyle, D. Jacques, and S.-J. . 2017, Verification of 24-hour quantitative precipitation forecasts over the Pacific Northwest from a high-resolution Ensemble Kalman Filter system, Wea. Forecasting.,
  • Halverson,Mark,Halverson,Mark ,Pawlowicz,Rich ,. 2016, Wind, tide, and river forcing of the surface currents in the Fraser River plume. Atmosphere-Ocean, Atmosphere-Ocean, 1-22,10.1080/07055900.2016.1138927.
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2014, “A Tale of Two Streams: Synthesizing Governance of Marine Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation”, Chapter 29 In: Governance of Marine Fisheries and Biodiversity Conservation: Interaction and Coevolution.,
  • Niu,Haibo,Shan,Shiliang,Sheng,Jinyu,. 2015, “Chapter 36: Prediction of Fecal Coliform Concentrations from Wastewater Discharges in the Halifax Harbour.” , Water Resources and Environment, Miklas Scholz(Eds), CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), ISBN: 9781138029095, p. 217-225,10.1201/b19079-37.
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2014, “Human Dimensions in Marine Ecosystem-Based Management” Chapter 3 in: The Sea, Volume 16 , Harvard University Press,
  • Niu,Haibo,. 2016, “Modeling the Dispersion of Tracers in the Marine Environment: A Model Sensitivity Study,” , Proceedings of the 2016 MTS/IEEE Oceans Conference, Shanghai, China,
  • {project_publications:pub_authors:member_lastname},{project_publications:pub_authors:member_firstname},King,Thomas,Niu,Haibo,. 2016, “Stochastic Modeling of Oil Spill in the Salish Sea,” In: Proceedings of the 26th , International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference, June 2016, Rhodes, Greece,

Through being easily and quickly re-locatable and providing this range of predictions, better decisions can made and incorporated into emergency response plans. Ultimately, this rapidly deployable prediction system will be transferred to Environment Canada for operational use.