Modelling the impacts of seasonal variability in freshwater input into the Waikouaiti Estuary

Understanding the dynamics of estuaries is important when setting minimum flow levels for the rivers flowing into them.

Model domain showing depth relative to mean sea level in metres.

Model domain showing depth relative to mean sea level in metres.

When Otago Regional Council consulted with local communities about possible minimum flows for the Waikouaiti River, interest groups voiced concern about what potential changes in freshwater inflow would do to the health of the estuary. So Rachel Ozanne, the Council water quality scientist, contracted MetOcean Solutions to investigate the natural variations in freshwater input to help council explore the potential impacts of flow reduction on estuary processes and ecology.

“Regional councils are tasked with setting minimum flow-levels and water allocation limits for rivers,” explains Rachel. “In order to determine whether the proposed minimum flows would cause adverse effects, we need to understand the estuary hydrodynamics.”

The council was particularly interested in assessing the difference that the minimum flow levels would make to the summer flows, when the natural riverine input into the estuary is at its lowest. 

Hydrodynamic model setup

The first step in setting up a hydrodynamic model is to get accurate bathymetry. A survey was carried out by Hunter Hydrographics and the data were combined with council LiDAR and chart data from LINZ. 

A finite-element (triangular mesh) numerical model domain was set up, with 5 m resolution inside the estuary, reducing to 200 m offshore. The SCHISM model was established and validated with measurements of water properties, water levels and currents made during a targeted field campaign undertaken by the Cawthron Institute. 

The effects of different low summer flows on estuary hydrodynamics

“We ran the model for a range of river flow rates representing summer conditions,” explains Dr Brett Beamsley, who was the science leader for the project and is an expert user of the SCHISM code. “The modelling showed that the range of summer flows has negligible effect on the overall hydrodynamics of the estuary. The tidal flows are so strong that they, rather than the river input, dominate the estuary hydrodynamics in the summer.”

Rachel feels that the modelling confirmed council suspicion that the natural variability in the area exceeds potential changes caused by varying the freshwater input.

“In the past, big storms have dramatically changed the estuary. The study showed that the small changes in summer flow investigated (changes in the order of up to 200 l per second) would make little difference to the dynamics of the estuary.” 

Tracing the dilution of pollutants

A eulerian tracer method was used to examine the dilution of fresh water within the estuary, and these simulations clearly showed that the rate of flushing varies for specific areas. 

“Such results are very useful when considering potential pollution events,” adds Rachel. “In the upper reaches of the estuary, it takes more than 10 tidal cycles to flush out the fresh water. This means that if a pollutant enters the estuary through the rivers, it  can take more than a week to dilute to negligible levels.”

Which areas are prone to siltation?

The model was also used to examine sediment transport potential within the estuary.
“When current flows exceed a threshold value, the sediments are mobilised and transported along in suspension,” adds Brett. “The sediments settle out when the current velocity drops. The modelling showed that even the smaller channels within Waikouaiti Estuary have flows that can entrain silts and sands for considerable periods of time on each tide. However some of the adjacent shallow intertidal flats do not, so these areas are susceptible to siltation.

“To help council manage the estuary, we produced a series of maps showing where sediments of different sizes are likely to entrained.” 

Mapping intertidal areas

The number of hours the estuary bed is wetted over the tidal cycle.

The number of hours the estuary bed is wetted over the tidal cycle.

Another aspect that the council was interested in was assessing how large the intertidal area is at different stages of the tide, and at the spring and neap tides. 
“Exposure to air is a critical component determining which species live where in the estuary, and which species prey on them” states Rachel. “Areas that are rarely inundated are susceptible to sedimentation, and maps like these help us understand the ecology and potential future changes that might affect the biological communities.   

Model and data are freely available

“SCHISM is an open-source science model which is freely available,” explains Brett. “This means that all the code is fully transparent, so that other researchers can replicate and modify previous modelling efforts. Council also made available all the measured data, model setup, boundary conditions and configuration files for use by the local community, including university students.”

Making the data and model freely available was important to Otago Regional Council. 
“We expect improvements to the model will be made over time as other users become involved in the model development and more data becomes available for validation,” explains Rachel. “We hope that Otago University will be able to use it for student projects, and are keen to promote it as an active, living model which can be used by community interest groups or organisations. The ultimate goal is for the model to become a useful tool for the community to further understand how the estuarine hydrodynamics affect ecosystem processes.”   

For further information on Otago Regional Council, see their website.
For more information on MetOcean Solutions’ coastal service, click here or view a pdf here.

Kaikoura tsunami waves measured in Wellington Harbour

The location of the wave meters on the eastern side of the entrance to Wellington Harbour.

The location of the wave meters on the eastern side of the entrance to Wellington Harbour.

The MetOcean Solutions science team made some unique wave measurements of the 14 November Kaikoura New Zealand tsunami event.

Oceanographer Florian Monetti has been studying the complex swell wave transformations into Wellington Harbour since 2015 as part of the environmental assessments for the Wellington Harbour Deepening Project. CentrePort, who operates Wellington Harbour, recently commissioned additional wave measurements at the popular surf breaks on the eastern side of the harbour entrance, with the intention to use these data to more precisely validate the numerical wave models of the harbour. MetOcean Solutions supplied three wave meters (RBRsolo) on seabed frames that were placed very close to the surf breaks. These meters record water levels continuously at twice per second, and as luck would have it they were deployed just a few days before the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. 

“The measurements are quite remarkable,” says Florian. “Because the meters were spaced along 3 km of the entrance coastline we can clearly see the progression of the tsunami waves as they enter the harbour.” 

The first noticeable change to the sea surface occurred only 2 minutes after the 12:02 am earthquake, with waves around 0.5 m occurring - likely radiating from the adjacent shoreline.  Then, after 24 minutes a mild disturbance was observed for about 10 minutes, which is probably the waves generated by the quake within the Wellington Harbour. Next, some 48 minutes after the quake, the water level first receded by about 0.8 m and then 12 minutes later it rose by 1.6 m. The tsunami waves moved relatively slowly through the harbour entrance, their speed limited to around 35 km/h by the shallow depth. The time lag between the first wave arriving at the Pipes and then Lion Rock surf breaks was 5 minutes. The two first waves were the largest but another 13 waves between 0.4 m and 1.0 m in size occurred over the following 6 hours. Notably, all these waves had a well-defined periodicity of (i.e. they recurred every) 27 minutes, and this distinctive tsunami signal could still be detected 19 hours after the arrival of the first wave. 

The tsunami waves started soon after the earthquake and continued until 19 hours after the quake. The graphs show the water level as measured (top) and with the tide and normal wave patterns removed (bottom).

The tsunami waves started soon after the earthquake and continued until 19 hours after the quake. The graphs show the water level as measured (top) and with the tide and normal wave patterns removed (bottom).

At Wellington, the size of the largest tsunami wave was quite close to the tidal range (which is 1.4 m), and the largest waves occurred when the tide was still low. This means the sea level changes were similar to what happens most days with the typical rise and fall of the tide. In fact, the highest water level occurred during the 9th tsunami wave, which coincided with the high tide. Some coastal flooding from the tsunami waves would certainly have occurred if the largest waves had arrived during the high tide.      

CentrePort has kindly made the data freely available for international tsunami researchers, and interested people should contact Florian for access (    

High resolution wave forecasts for Chile now available

Good forecasts improve port safety and efficiency.

Good forecasts improve port safety and efficiency.

MetOcean Solutions have set up a high resolution wave forecast model for the coastline of Chile in South America. 
"We are delighted to now provide a high quality wave model for Chile," says Senior Oceanographer Dr Rafael Guedes. "We've set up a regional domain covering the central and northern Chilean coast and can now provide nearshore wave forecasts for the area north of 41°S. Accurate wave forecasting is important for ports located along this dynamic, exposed coastline."

The Chile model domain, showing depth (left) and sample wave height (right).

The Chile model domain, showing depth (left) and sample wave height (right).

The work was initiated following a visit by MetOcean Solutions to Chile in October, where the need for high resolution port scale wave forecasts was made apparent.  
"We've used the state-of-the-art SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore) model," continues Dr Guedes. "Like many New Zealand ports, Chilean ports suffer from wave exposure. Accurate modelling can help ports save money and time, and increase safety. MetOcean Solutions specialise in forecasting wave conditions for weather-exposed ports, and we provide expert forecasts for a number of ports internationally already. We are very happy to potentially extend the service to Chile. Of course, very high accuracy forecasts require accurate bathymetry." 
The model domain was set up to cover the coast between 41°S and 17°S at 5 km resolution and was set up using full spectral boundaries from MetOcean Solutions' new, upgraded global WAVEWATCH III wave model. The new model can be accessed via the MetOceanView platform.

MetOcean Solutions welcomes Otago University oceanography intern

Dannielle is looking forward to her summer internship.

Dannielle is looking forward to her summer internship.

Dannielle Fougere, a BSc oceanography student from Otago University, recently started an oceanography internship at MetOcean Solutions. 

Otago University Marine Science Department offers a BSc in Oceanography and as part of this provides a summer internship for a top student. This year Dannielle won the prestigious internship and she will be spending 8 weeks over the summer at MetOcean Solution offices in New Plymouth.

Dannielle is excited to be working at MetOcean Solutions for the summer. "It's great to get this opportunity to work among individuals who share a passion for science", she says."I'm looking forward to gaining some experience in my field." 

MetOcean Solutions at Melbourne Wave Workshop

Workshop on waves

Workshop on waves

Dr Tom Durrant attended the Ocean Waves and Wave-Coupled Processes Workshop held at the University of Melbourne 7-9 December 2016. Tom manages MetOcean Solutions' wave modelling and at the workshop he presented the company's wave forecasting.

The workshop launched the Australia-China Centre for Maritime Engineering, of which MetOcean Solutions is an industry partner.

The Centre was established to develop highly sophisticated modelling tools to predict ocean and wave climatology, extremes and trends which will allow offshore industries to prepare and protect their ocean assets as they continue the push further offshore and into more extreme environments.

For more information about the Centre, click here

MetOcean Solutions award video released

The Ministry of Defence has released their video for the Defence Industry Awards of Excellence. 

MetOcean Solutions won the prestigious 'Provision of a product to Defence for less than $15 million' category for the SurfZoneView software. 

SurfZoneView is a tool designed to assist amphibious landings by modelling and visualising surf conditions. The tool was developed in a close working relationship with the Defence Technology Agency.

MetOcean Solutions is a proud recipient of the Award of Excellence.

MetOcean Solutions is a proud recipient of the Award of Excellence.

"Getting personnel and gear safely ashore can be very tricky," states Dr David Johnson who worked with the DTA to develop the tool. "We are very happy to have created something that will help keep the Royal New Zealand Navy personnel safe." 

MetOcean Solutions is now making the tool commercially available to navies, civil defence agencies and coast guards around the world.

Unseasonally warm waters for Raglan

Sea temperatures off Raglan are currently at least 1°C warmer than the 36-year average.

"The warmer than average temperatures are noticeable - both for swimmers and for the ecosystem," states MetOcean Solutions Forecast Manager Dr Rafael Soutelino. "The warming could be caused by more sunny days than usual or by an onset of warm water residual coastal circulation from the north."

"Historically, the 20°C barrier is broken late December or early January off Raglan," explains Rafael. "However, if the current pattern continues, the water will reach 20°C much earlier than normal."

Top: current surface water temperatures (degrees C) (left) and forecasted warming over the next week (right). Bottom: The forecasted climb in surface water temperatures compared with the 36-year average

Top: current surface water temperatures (degrees C) (left) and forecasted warming over the next week (right).

Bottom: The forecasted climb in surface water temperatures compared with the 36-year average

The warming pattern is not mirrored further south. In New Plymouth, water temperatures are recovering from upwelling of colder bottom waters which occurred in connection with the latest stretch of winds from the west - southwest.  

"The sea surface temperatures do vary quite a bit from year to year," says Rafael. "The main variation is caused by the spatial location of different water bodies - so the warming of Raglan temperatures could be just a warm water body coming down earlier from the north. And although the current warming is pronounced, it could change quickly if prolonged southerly winds push colder waters up to Raglan."  

Historical ocean weather data statistics freely available

Historical data such as 100 year return period value (RPV) wave heights is important baseline information for anyone operating in the ocean.

Historical data such as 100 year return period value (RPV) wave heights is important baseline information for anyone operating in the ocean.

MetOcean Solutions recently provided free access to all our hindcast data statistics from around the world. 

"Anyone with internet access can now view and download historical weather statistics from a range of global locations," states Dr Rafael Guedes, Manager of Hindcasts. "In total we have statistics available from more than 380,000 datapoints around the world, a number which is constantly increasing as we run our models for new locations."

MetOcean Solutions’ hindcast data provide high quality marine weather information generated in-house by a team of expert scientists using state-of-the-art atmospheric and oceanographic models. The hindcast statistics can be accessed through the MetOceanView platform with no login required. 

"Our historical data archives reach back to 1979," adds Rafael. "The information available includes wind and wave distribution statistics, roses, joint probability tables and extreme value analysis data."

Suitable for environmental investigations and climate analysis, the datasets offer key baseline information for project scoping, offshore and coastal design, project planning and environmental impact assessment.

"We display tiles with gridded statistics from selected global datasets, including gridded mean wave height, period and direction for total swell and wind-sea wave components, percentiles and extreme value analysis of significant wave height and wind speed, vector-average currents, as well as mean air and sea-surface temperature."

Click here for free access to the more than 380,000 hindcast data locations worldwide. 

For a list of full historical datasets available, click here.

MetOcean Solutions wins NZ Defence award

New Zealand Defence Force during training operations.

New Zealand Defence Force during training operations.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced MetOcean Solutions a winner of the annual Minister of Defence Industry Awards of Excellence for 2016. The company won the 'Provision of a product to Defence for less than $15 million' category for the SurfZoneView software. SurfZoneView is a tool designed to assist amphibious landings by modelling and visualising surf conditions. 

"We are very proud to receive the award," says Technical Director Dr David Johnson. "The creation of SurfZoneView was an excellent collaborative project in which we worked together with the New Zealand Defence Technology Agency to take their concept from vision to reality. It is a great example of applying leading edge oceanographic science to solve real-world problems. We are very happy to have created something that will help keep the Royal New Zealand Navy personnel safe." 

MetOcean Solutions is now making the tool commercially available to navies, civil defence agencies and coast guards around the world.

"The safe transfer of equipment and personnel from sea onto land is fraught with difficulty for any agency operating in the nearshore environment," adds Dr Johnson. "Beach landings are notoriously dangerous, but through modelling the wave and current conditions we can identify safe transects and landing spots. The user inputs the bathymetry of the area of interest and specifies the offshore wave conditions, and the tool does the rest.

"MetOcean Solutions provided forecasts for the naval landings in Kaikoura in connection with evacuation of people following the earthquakes there." 
David believes that the success of the SurfZoneView was the result of good collaboration with the Defence Technology Agency.
"Close relationships are critical to solve the key challenges facing New Zealand. We have a finite pool of people and resources to protect, manage and understand the vast ocean and extensive coastline of New Zealand. We have a collaborative project underway to deploy a wave buoy further south than ever done before. The involvement of the Defence Technology Agency and contribution of a New Zealand Defence Force vessel to do the deployment will be critical for the success of that project."

Click here to watch our SurfZoneView video, and here for a PDF detailing the tool.

Click here for the Ministry of Defence press release.

Go-ahead for Centre for Space Science Technology

Yesterday the Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced that the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) has been selected to become New Zealand’s second Regional Research Institute. 
The plans include a science and administration base in central Otago supported by regional science hubs around the country, including one in New Plymouth, where specific pieces of research will be done. As one of the founding partners for the initiative, MetOcean Solutions will be involved with New Plymouth's research hub, which will focus on remote sensing of the ocean and atmosphere. 

“The Centre for Space Science Technology will undertake research to explore the use of space-based measurements and satellite imagery unique to New Zealand to meet the specific needs of our regional industries,” Mr Joyce says. “It will establish an international satellite data exchange and collaborate with leading researchers and businesses, both here and abroad, to design, build and launch New Zealand’s first fleet of cube satellites.”

MetOcean Solutions is delighted with this outcome.  "It represents a new way of using public science funding to actively promote enabling technologies and directly stimulate economic growth," says Managing Director Dr Peter McComb.

Satellite imagery will be used to further knowledge about New Zealand's ocean resources

Satellite imagery will be used to further knowledge about New Zealand's ocean resources

"It's firstly about utilising new technology to effectively manage massive data sets and make them readily accessible for specialists in science and industry. The second part is developing applications that turn these rich data sources into useful knowledge, and the key metric of success will be how we can enable NZ businesses and research institutes to use satellite
data more effectively. That truly has the potential to transform our society. The other part of it will develop cube sat missions that are targeted toward NZ-specific applications, and they can be launched from NZ as well as elsewhere in the world.

"We aim to lower the threshold for agencies to access the abundant information from historical and real time satellite data sets. At the moment very specialist skills and equipment is needed to do this, which presents a significant barrier to most. By centralising this capacity for NZ, we will help raise the productivity and economic benefits from satellite data, and
also promote a national space-based economy for the benefit of all regions in NZ.

"Very specific products and data sets will be produced from the New Plymouth CSST hub - such as high resolution maps of ocean turbidity. Water clarity has a huge impact on the coastal marine ecology, and satellites can be used to monitor the effect of terrestrial runoff and river plumes on a daily basis. We can also observe the oceanic boundaries between water masses which is helpful in fisheries management. In fact, the use of satellite data is really only limited by our imagination, and the new generation of sensors provide outstanding opportunities. Another example is the Himawari8 weather satellite that monitors the skies over NZ every 2.5 minutes – we can now watch the atmospheric convection bubbling away in near real time. That opens up the next generation of short range weather forecasting capability.“ 
In New Plymouth, a team of CSST geospatial scientists will be co-located with the oceanographers at MetOcean Solutions, and there will be a close association with the Nelson-based Cawthron Institute.

See also 


MetOcean Solutions and OMC International at Maritime Pilot Association Conference

At the New Zealand Maritime Pilots' Association Conference in Auckland later this week, MetOcean Solutions and OMC International will be presenting how the strategic alliance between the two companies will benefit existing and prospective clients.

'The combined skill set of the alliance allows us to provide comprehensive services, to help ports increase efficiency and safety,' states Sebastien Boulay who will represent MetOcean Solutions at the conference. 'OMC are world leaders in under keel clearance guidance, and this united with our customised high-resolution forecasting for ports provide real benefits to our clients.'

The New Zealand Maritime Pilots' Association - 3rd Biennial Conference is held from 15-18 November at the Hilton Hotel, Princes Wharf, Auckland. Click here for more information on the conference.  

For more information about OMC International visit their website here. Learn more about the strategic alliance between OMC International and MetOcean Solutions here.

Tracing gun cartridges using MetOceanTrack

Cartridges released from the Waitara River potentially spread far.

Cartridges released from the Waitara River potentially spread far.

An unusual query from Taranaki Regional Council resulted in an interesting unravelling of the fate of plastic waste washing into the sea.
In August 2016, Dr Emily Roberts, Taranaki Regional Council’s Marine Ecologist, approached MetOcean Solutions to ask for help with some marine detective work. Emily is involved with Project Hotspot, a Taranaki based pilot project that is using citizen science to support the conservation of threatened and iconic species. As part of the project, Council worked with Oakura School and Highlands Intermediate to clean up Taranaki beaches. The children were puzzled to find dozens of plastic wads from shotgun cartridges washing up on beaches around Taranaki, including within the environmentally sensitive Tapuae Marine Reserve. They wanted help determining likely sources of the cartridges, and who better to answer this than New Plymouth’s resident oceanographers.

Emily discussed the case with Allen Stancliff, the Taranaki Fish & Game Council Field Officer. He suspected that the plastic wads came from the Manganui River (which flows into the Waitara River), where an annual club clay bird shoot event is held. The shoot has grown in popularity over the years, attracting about 200 shooters in recent years. As some of the traps are located on the riverbank, the plastic wads could easily have ended up in the river. Newer ammunition uses fibre wads, but up until 2014 the ammunition used had plastic wads. If Allen was right, thousands of plastic wads could have been washed down the Waitara River over the years. Allen also thought that some plastic wads may originate from gamebird hunters shooting ducks along streams and rivers throughout Taranaki. These hunters are required to use steel shot (rather than lead, which is toxic) and at present the only suitable wads are plastic, but he doubted that this was a significant source.

Some of the plastic wads found by Oakura School and Highlands Intermediate.

Some of the plastic wads found by Oakura School and Highlands Intermediate.

Emily asked MetOcean Solutions to help trace the likely source of the plastic wads.

“There’s a number of reasons why stuff washes ashore in certain places,” says Mariana Horigome, the oceanographer working on the project.  “The wind and currents are the drivers, but the coastal aspect and shoreline profile also has to be right for objects such as the plastic wads to beach and not get refloated on the next tide." 

Mariana met up with Emily who pinpointed the locations where the higher concentrations of cartridges were noticed, and with Allen who explained the potential sources. To investigate whether the Waitara River could be the source of the shotgun cartridges, Mariana ran the MetOceanTrack modelling tool, a marine particle tracing software developed by MetOcean Solutions. When the model was set to release particles from the Waitara River they spread widely to locations both north and south of New Plymouth, nicely replicating where the wads had been found.

Emily was also keen to determine the source of plastic parking tickets that had been found at the beach cleanup. A MetOceanTrack run showed that the location of the tickets recovered was consistent with them entering the water in New Plymouth City, thus making local beach-goers the likely culprits. The model runs indicated that over time both the cartridges and the parking tickets could potentially spread very far from the source, with some particles ending up north of Mokau.  

"It was great to get some help determining where the plastic came from," says Emily. "The modelling confirmed our suspicions and we can now take action to minimise the waste entering rivers and the marine environment."
Mariana enjoys being able to help the local community. “Software like MetOceanTrack has got wide applications, providing useful information for anyone wanting more information about where objects go once they have entered the ocean. In addition to tracing rubbish, MetOceanTrack can be used to trace the spread of invasive species, the fate of oil spills and even people lost at sea.”

For more information about the findings of project Hotspot, click here.

MetOcean at SIOP 2016 in Chile

Dr Peter McComb, que vino a San Antonio (Chile) como motivo del Seminario Internacional de Ingeniera y Operación Portuaria (SIOP 2016), fue invitado a dar una ponencia sobre el tema de la Oceanografía Operacional y las soluciones existentes para puertos.

"Fue un honor participar en un evento de tal importancia", comentó Peter. "Es siempre muy interesante tener conocimiento de las iniciativas científicas y compartir lo que hacemos",  añadió.


Dr Peter McComb recently attended the International Seminar of Engineering and Port Operations (SIOP 2016) conference held in San Antonio, Chile. Peter was invited to talk about Operational Oceanography and solutions for ports. 

"It was an honour to be invited to present at the SIOP 2016 conference," states Peter. "It was great to hear about all the science initiatives in that part of the world, and to share what we do."

For the full video of conference talks, see the  Puerto San Antonio Facebook link.

Operational Oceanography applied to ports

Operational Oceanography applied to ports

Validation of tool for safer and more efficient offshore oil & gas vessel operations

The MetOcean Solutions' tool can predict conditions that are unsafe for FPSOs.

The MetOcean Solutions' tool can predict conditions that are unsafe for FPSOs.

A paper detailing research carried out at MetOcean Solutions has just been published in the Ocean Engineering journal.

The research, done by Ian Milne, Sebastien Delaux and Peter McComb, presents the validation of a tool used to predict the behaviour of the large vessels used for the processing and storage of oil and gas in remote and deepwater offshore locations under different metocean conditions. 

Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) and Floating Liquid Natural Gas (FLNG) vessels are used around the world. These huge vessels (lengths of up to 300-400 m) are moored using a turret system, which lets the vessel rotate around the mooring fixed to the seabed. Once tethered, the vessels are typically left for up to 25 years in one location from which they are only moved if the safety of operations is threatened. 

The combined forces of wind, waves and currents determine the alignment of the vessels. Therefore, the ability to forecast headings is important to operators as certain directions could result in roll motion which may compromise safety and hence require operations to be shut down. 

Supported by a research and development grant from Callaghan Innovation, MetOcean Solutions has developed a tool for the prediction of vessel heading. The paper details the validation of the tool using measurements from an operating FPSO.

"The model predicted the vessel heading within an accuracy of 5% for a range of environmental conditions," states Dr Sebastien Delaux. "It is great to have a good validation, and we are looking forward to finalising the tool and making it operational, so that we can help operators identify dangerous conditions. The tool will also be useful in planning stages to assess the operability of an FPSO for a particular site." 

Ian Milne is now with the University of Western Australia.
Data for the validation of the tool was provided by OMV New Zealand.
Click here for details of the Callaghan Innovation Research and Development Grant.  
The full journal article can be found here

MetOcean Solutions at the New Zealand Coastal Society Conference: predicting estuarine coastal inundation

At the upcoming New Zealand Coastal Society Conference in Dunedin Dr Brett Beamsley will present recent work from a project with Tasman District Council. 

The project was designed to help the council assess coastal hazard risks due to inundation and coastal flooding over the coming 100 years. Normally, coastal flooding risks are calculated using a combination of predicted storm tide and sea level rise. However, this technique produces overly conservative estimates in estuarine environments where the non-linear nature of tidal propagation affects inundation levels. 

The study quantified the likely inundation within the Moturere Estuary, a complex inlet which includes a barrier spit. A numerical model was set up for the site and a combination of ‘worst-case’ water levels were run over several tidal cycles to examine the non-linear propagation of the open coast water levels into the inlet, their effect on inundation levels, and the effect of sequential high-stands on water levels. The findings suggest that because of the tidal wave lag within estuaries the actual inundation extents will likely be significantly different than those predicted if simplistically assuming that land lower than or equal to the storm surge level will become inundated. If the storm surge event spans multiple tidal cycles, or multiple storm surge events are predicted to occur in quick succession, inundation extents are likely to increase significantly. 

Inundation levels for a 3.5 m combined Sea Level Rise + Storm Tide + Mean High Water Springs for the first high-tide stand (left), a high-tide stand 6-days later (centre) and assuming all land sub 3.5 m becomes inundated (right). 

Inundation levels for a 3.5 m combined Sea Level Rise + Storm Tide + Mean High Water Springs for the first high-tide stand (left), a high-tide stand 6-days later (centre) and assuming all land sub 3.5 m becomes inundated (right). 

The conference is held in Dunedin 16-18 November and has as its theme 'He waka eke noa - Linking science, engineering, management and community'.  'He waka eke noa' is a Maori proverb which means 'We are all in this boat together'.

For further information about the conference, see

Minister of Science and Innovation visits MetOcean Solutions

The Hon Steven Joyce visited our New Plymouth office at the end of September.
As part of a trip to New Plymouth on 29 September the Minister and local MP Jonathan Young stopped by the MetOcean Solutions office for a quick visit. Ed Parker from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise accompanied the visitors.
Among his many portfolios, the Hon Steven Joyce is the Minister for Economic Development and the Minister of Science and Innovation. 
"We're delighted to have the Minister and local MP come to visit us. We were able to discuss some of the innovative services and products that we provide," states Dr David Johnson, the Technical Director of MetOcean Solutions. "We were impressed by their knowledge and vision for science- and technology-based businesses driving future New Zealand prosperity. It is great that the Minister takes the time to personally visit businesses like ours, talk to our team and share some of his thoughts with us - we really appreciate that."

Meet us at the ROMS Asia-Pacific workshop

MetOcean Solutions will be at the ROMS (Regional Ocean Modeling System) Asia-Pacific workshop in Hobart, Tasmania next week.

At the workshop, Dr Rafael Soutelino will present a poster detailing the research of Phellipe Couto, whose MSc he supervised. The study investigated coastal upwelling in Rio de Janeiro.

"In Rio in the summer the water temperatures associated with fine weather are normally quite cold," explains Phellipe. "Warmer water comes with cold fronts - a pattern well known by regular beach-goers in the region. The research investigated anomalous behaviours, where the the circulation reverses, bringing warmer than usual waters regardless of the local weather regime, a treat for holiday-makers which also has biogeochemical implications for local ecosystems and fisheries."

ROMS was used for most of the work, and Phellipe continues his modelling career at MetOcean Solutions where he is now working. 

The workshop, which will run October 17-20, is hosted at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania in Hobart. It is jointly sponsored by the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystem CRC and the ARC Antarctic Gateway Partnership.

For more details on the workshop, see

A mechanism for the disruption of Rio's upwelling explained

A mechanism for the disruption of Rio's upwelling explained

Severe thunderstorms and tornado warning for North Island

The forecasted trough  over the North Island, as seen in MetOceanView.

The forecasted trough  over the North Island, as seen in MetOceanView.

An upper cold trough is forecast to move across New Zealand's North Island tonight, which will bring with it thunderstorms and a risk of tornadoes.

If tonight's storms are well developed by the time they hit the shoreline, wind speeds on the west coast of the North Island may exceed 110 km per hour. 

There is also the possibility of a few tornadoes forming. 

The New Zealand MetService are warning people to watch out for falling trees and power poles, to secure loose items such as trampolines, and to expect localised flooding.

MetOcean Solutions enters strategic alliance with OMC International

The Strategic Alliance will help provide maximum benefits to port clients.

The Strategic Alliance will help provide maximum benefits to port clients.

MetOcean Solutions have signed a strategic alliance with Melbourne firm OMC International. The two companies plan to coordinate research and development efforts and offer an expanded level of maritime forecasting and hydrodynamic services to port and harbour clients.

“We are excited to announce the strategic alliance", says Dr Peter McComb, the Managing Director of MetOcean Solutions. "We believe that aligning the ongoing research and development of our two companies will maximise the benefits to our clients.” 

OMC International is the recognised world-leader in real time under keel clearance management technology, offering services for port clients around the world. MetOcean Solutions has worked extensively with OMC International in the past 10 years, providing marine forecasts and modelling services for some of OMC International's client ports. The strategic alliance expands the existing working relationship, and enables the two companies to provide additional services to clients.

“This is a positive step toward creating the next generation of marine services to ports and harbours. We are very pleased about the partnership and are looking forward to working together," states Dr McComb.

Combined, OMC International and MetOcean Solutions employ more than 80 staff, including engineers, naval architects, scientists and software developers.

Founded in 2005, MetOcean Solutions is a science-based consultancy that provides specialist numerical modelling and analytical services in meteorology and oceanography. The company has a solid track record providing high quality environmental data and expert interpretation to meet the rigorous requirements of the offshore and maritime industries as well as regulatory, defence and government agencies.


Water quality maps for Sustainable Seas

MetOcean Solutions, the Cawthron Institute and NIWA join forces in a project to map and forecast water quality. The project, which is funded as part of the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge, aims to use oceanographic forecasting to produce forecast charts of expected water quality levels in Tasman and Golden bays, New Zealand. 
"The idea is to create forecast charts and site specific forecasts that councils, boaties and marine farmers can check, similar to a weather map," explains MetOcean Solutions Project Director Dr Brett Beamsley. "It will show the expected distribution patterns of river plumes formed after heavy rainfall, highlighting their paths once they enter the coastal marine area and become influenced by coastal circulation caused by wind and tides."
Rivers often carry contaminants such as sediments and faecal coliforms and the tool will include information about the predicted risk of bacterial contamination in the coastal receiving environment. "The maps will provide helpful information for stakeholders interested in coastal water quality, such as councils tasked with managing beach closures and the shellfish aquaculture industry who cannot harvest until the water quality is sufficiently good," says Dr Beamsley. 
Currently, water quality in the bays is estimated through the monitoring of river flow rates only. It is hoped that the research will provide higher resolution data on the exact flow patterns of river plumes in the coastal environment, thus allowing more accurate and responsive management of activities sensitive to water quality.  
The project is one of the eight scientific research projects that have recently received funding as part of the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge. The challenge aims to enhance the use of New Zealand's vast marine resources, while ensuring the environment is used wisely for future sustainability. 
For further information on the water quality mapping project, see

The water quality maps will help shellfish farmers establish when water quality is good enough to harvest stock.

The water quality maps will help shellfish farmers establish when water quality is good enough to harvest stock.