Ocean current statistics in the Gulf of Mexico derived from an ensemble approach

Ashwanth Srinivasan, Neha Sharma, Drew Gustafson, Mohamed Iskandarani, Omar Knio, Carlisle Thacker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Ocean currents are an important consideration throughout the life cycle of the many offshore projects. These currents are complex, three dimensional, dynamic and as yet poorly characterized in a statistical sense. Numerical ocean circulation models are increasingly sophisticated and are beginning to capture the structure and variability of complex ocean current systems. The starting point for model-based characterization of currents is a long time series of model outputs obtained at high spatial and temporal resolution. There are an ever-increasing number of model products, but it is not clear how to identify suitable products for a given application. Frequently, a familiar product is chosen that may not be the best choice. Here, we present an alternative approach wherein a collection of model runs, referred to as an ensemble, is used to estimate ocean current statistics at points of interest. Unlike other ensemble methods where the ensemble is used to estimate the statistics directly, we use the ensemble to construct a surrogate ocean model or an emulator using polynomial expansions. This emulator is computationally inexpensive to run and is used to sample the model outputs for large numbers of model inputs to generate full probability distributions of the model state, which can then be used to derive statistics required for design criteria. We have used the above technique to build an emulator for a numerical circulation model of the Gulf of Mexico. We present statistics of the Loop Current derived from this approach and briefly compare it with statistics obtained from measurements and other available long time-series of model outputs. Probability distributions for a sample point in the vicinity of the Loop Current are presented. It is shown that the technique can provide robust statistics and complements existing techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOffshore Technology Conference 2019, OTC 2019
PublisherOffshore Technology Conference
ISBN (Electronic)9781613996416
StatePublished - 2019
EventOffshore Technology Conference 2019, OTC 2019 - Houston, United States
Duration: May 6 2019May 9 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual Offshore Technology Conference
ISSN (Print)0160-3663


ConferenceOffshore Technology Conference 2019, OTC 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019, Offshore Technology Conference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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