Hauraki Gulf current hindcast now available

MetOcean Solutions recently completed a 26-year hindcast detailing currents and water elevation of the Hauraki Gulf. The hindcast was created using a 2-dimensional Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) model run at 250 m resolution, delivering detailed depth-averaged currents and water elevation data from 1989 to 2016.

Oceanographer Phellipe Couto carried out the modelling. He explains: “The model resolves barotropic tides - the depth-averaged velocity component of the tide - as well as water levels. The Hauraki Gulf is subject to storm surges, which are driven by wind setup and atmospheric pressure. Low-pressure systems sweeping across New Zealand result in surge, which can act to amplify the tides, causing very low or high water levels."

Snapshots of modelled atmospheric and oceanic fields during a meteorological event. Upper panels show mean sea level pressure contours and non-tidal sea surface elevation provided by the New Zealand-wide grid. The animation at the bottom illustrates the depth-averaged current flow field inside the Hauraki Gulf reproduced in the high-resolution grid.

“To accurately resolve the tides and water levels inside the Gulf, we had to get the forcings right. We used high-resolution tidal constituents at the boundaries combined to fine resolution bathymetry constructed from available data, including data from nautical charts and independent surveys. We also ran a New Zealand-scale ROMS model at 5 km resolution to provide boundary conditions, allowing us to properly downscale energy and associated sea surface perturbations from the larger scales into the 250 m grid of the Hauraki Gulf model. For atmospheric forcing, we used the Hau-Moana data set - the 12 km resolution atmospheric hindcast for the New Zealand-wide domain, and the 4 km resolution Hauraki Gulf data for our higher resolution grid.”

The hindcast data was validated against water elevation data from a tide gauge at Tiritiri Matangi Island.  

“The validation shows good agreement between modelled and measured water elevation levels,” continues Phellipe. “The hindcast provides a robust baseline tide and water elevation data set for the area, outlining the prevailing conditions for use by people who operate within or manage the Gulf. The data can also be used as boundary conditions for higher resolution modelling of local areas within the Gulf, e.g. for the hydrodynamic modelling of estuaries or embayments. This study forms the foundation for developing a full 3-dimensional hydrodynamic model which will help with the management of water quality, and gain insight into transport (e.g. of larvae or sediments), dispersion, and flushing timescales in the Hauraki Gulf.”

For further information about the Hauraki Gulf ROMS hindcast, please contact enquiries@metocean.co.nz.     

Modelling the dispersal and settlement of drill cuttings

Drilling operations at sea produce a mix of fine rock fragments that need to be discharged into the ocean. While inert, these fragments (known as drill cuttings) can have sediments, contaminants and drilling fluids adhering to them. To help regulators and marine managers assess the potential impact of drilling operations, MetOcean Solutions is regularly engaged to model the dispersal and settlement of drill cuttings in the marine environment at locations all over the world. 

“Drill cuttings settle on the seabed, where they can cause adverse environmental impacts,” explains Oceanographer Remy Zyngfogel. “The oceanic discharge of drill cuttings occurs over specific time periods, but their dispersal and deposition are driven by random variables such as currents and turbulence.” 

“To determine where the drill cuttings end up on the seabed, we use a variety of methods and leverage the expertise of our multidisciplinary science team. This includes modelling the hydrodynamics of the region and simulating the trajectory and the settling of the drill cuttings to the seabed. Regulators and marine managers require good knowledge of the likely footprint of  deposition and how thick the deposits will be at increasing distances from the drill site.”

Project Director Dr Brett Beamsley oversees the hydrodynamic modelling. “We use different models to produce the historical datasets needed for the studies,” advises Brett. “Oceanic and coastal currents vary according to synoptic and seasonal winds, tides and density differences. To account for this variability, and to provide robust statistical estimates of dispersal and deposition, we use historical data to recreate the actual oceanographic conditions, typically hour-by-hour for a 10-year period. We recreate these currents using the most appropriate model. For offshore studies, we use the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), whereas for smaller-scale studies at inshore sites SCHISM or Delft3D are used.” 

An example of 7-day mean surface current circulation and Sea Surface Temperature (°C) for the south-eastern region of Brazil.

An example of 7-day mean surface current circulation and Sea Surface Temperature (°C) for the south-eastern region of Brazil.

Remy uses the historical current dataset to determine the dispersal of drill cuttings. “Once we have the historical currents, we use a particle tracking model to trace the dispersal and deposition of drill cuttings for simulated discharges at different times of the year,” he explains. “Ocean currents vary with factors like seasonal winds and riverine discharges, so the depositional footprint will differ depending on which time of year the drilling is done. The size of fragments discharged into the sea depends on the rock type and the drill bit design. From an estimate of particle size, we can determine settling velocities - the finest fractions of the drill cuttings settle through the water column very slowly and become widely dispersed, whereas larger particles settle quickly and much closer to the discharge location.”

Example deposition thickness for drill cuttings discharged from a marine location. The spatial distributions of deposition thickness are color-coded with values in mm on each contour line in four zoom views: 100x100 km (top left), 10x10 km (top right), 1x1 km (bottom left) and 100x100 m (bottom right). The release site is indicated as a black cross. 

Example deposition thickness for drill cuttings discharged from a marine location. The spatial distributions of deposition thickness are color-coded with values in mm on each contour line in four zoom views: 100x100 km (top left), 10x10 km (top right), 1x1 km (bottom left) and 100x100 m (bottom right). The release site is indicated as a black cross. 

“The modelling represents what is likely to happen statistically, over long time periods. Naturally, for any given discharge, the drill cuttings will disperse according to the flow conditions at the time. For example, if discharge occurs during high current flows, the drill cuttings will be transported further, and the deposition will be more spread out. If current velocities are low at the time of discharge, the cuttings will accumulate closer to the discharge point.” 

Where pre- and post-drilling sediment samples have been taken, it is possible to verify the dispersal modelling. 

“We often use barium as a tracer,” explains Remy.  “Drill cuttings contain elevated concentrations of barium from the drilling fluids. This makes barium an ideal tracer of discharged cuttings. Seabed samples taken before and after drilling can be used to determine the change in barium concentration and thereby verify the modelled deposition of the cuttings.“

“The modelling provides a statistical representation of possible outcomes, taking into account the natural variety of current flow conditions. The modelled results typically show good agreement with observed barium levels, which means that operators and regulators can confidently use the modelling to determine the extent of potential adverse effects. This information is used both when applying for permits and post-permit, in the design of environmental monitoring programmes.” 

Contact us if you would like to discuss modelling the discharge of drill cuttings or historical current data for your drilling location.

MetOceanView - making the offshore oil & gas industry safer and more efficient

Worldwide, a variety of offshore oil and gas companies use historical data from MetOceanView to understand the environment they work in. Packaged up in the site’s ‘hindcast app’, historical wind, wave and current data is summarised in an easy-to-access format that users can download and integrate into their operational planning.

“The offshore oil and gas industry needs access to reliable site data,” explains Senior Oceanographer Dr Rafael Guedes. “Nowadays, many data sources are available, and the industry needs a robust web platform where they can easily access, browse and download time-series from some of the best hindcast data sources available around the globe. To meet their needs, we set up a hindcast downloading app within our MetOceanView web service.”

Reliable data

The hindcast app provides access to an extensive compilation of data, going as far back as 1958 for some of the datasets.

“We host some of the most reliable global ocean and atmospheric reanalysis data sources in the world,” adds Dr Guedes. “These include NOAA’s CFSR V1 and V2, Hycom from the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) and JRA-55 from the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA). In addition, we also provide MetOcean Solutions’ in-house WAVEWATCH III wave hindcast datasets.”

Gaining efficiency

Dealing with huge datasets is not easy, and to set up a useable service, practical obstacles had to be overcome.

“One common problem when accessing historical data is that the volume of data in gridded datasets can be very large,” says Dr Guedes. “For example, a subset of the HYCOM dataset we host comprises about 2.6 trillion individual data points for each variable. Reading long-term time-series from such enormous datasets can be very slow. To make a user-friendly service, we came up with an efficient process to speed up the reading, so that datasets that used to take more than two hours to download could be read in just five minutes.”

One-stop-shop for ocean data

The service works by hosting a range of reference datasets in our servers, giving the client access to unlimited data from all available global datasets as well as MetOcean Solutions’ wave and current model outputs.

“We provide a user-friendly map-based web interface where the user can inspect the different data sources and request time-series for any available grid location,” adds Dr Guedes. “The results are generated without human intervention and delivered within minutes in standard file formats, a link to which is sent directly to the user’s email.”

Data for safer operations

The hindcast app gives access to historical ocean temperature, current, elevation and wave data, as well as atmospheric parameters such as wind, temperature and precipitation.

“Accurate wave, wind and current information is essential for anyone operating offshore,” explains Dr Guedes. “Oil and gas companies use the hindcast data for a range of purposes, including determining the potential operational conditions for offshore locations and ensuring safety at sea.”

The hindcast data subscription service allows customers to browse map views of global datasets with descriptions of the variables that can be downloaded. Grid points show the exact location of each data point. Time-series are provided in either CF-compliant netCDF files or a format specially requested by the client. Wave hindcast data can be downloaded as time-series of spectral parameters or as two-dimensional, frequency-direction wave spectra. This allows a comprehensive description of the modelled wave field over the entire globe. For example, the spectra shed light on the multiple wave systems influencing wave conditions at a certain location and given time.

Making our clients’ life easier

This is the second year of delivering online historical metocean data services to Shell.  “We’ve found the global hindcast portal very valuable,” states Octavio Sequeiros, Shell Metocean Engineer. “Previously, to obtain data for a given location we had to create a specific purchase order for each request. Now, unlimited high quality historical data for any location are just a mouse-click away.

“The fast data download has made our planning easier, more efficient and cost-effective” continues Mr. Sequeiros. “The app is easy to use, and because it provides map layers along with the data grid locations, we can inspect areas and do a few queries before we decide to download time-series. Many summary statistics are shown in tile format, which means we can get a sense of the data before committing to downloads. We mostly use the time-series of wave parameters and wave spectra. On these, we run our own statistics in-house to obtain operational and design criteria for preliminary studies of new potential sites for oil and gas exploration. Our goal is to get workability predictions using accurate modelling.”

High level statistics from each of the datasets hosted by MetOcean Solutions is available via our MetOceanView interface.

Sea surface temperature snapshot from CFS dataset.

Sea surface temperature snapshot from CFS dataset.

Sea ice area snapshot from CFS dataset.

Sea ice area snapshot from CFS dataset.

Eastward wind snapshot from CFS dataset.

Eastward wind snapshot from CFS dataset.

Sea surface wave significant height snapshot from MetOcean Solutions’ dataset.

Sea surface wave significant height snapshot from MetOcean Solutions’ dataset.