Erik van Sebille, Peter Jan van Leeuwen, Arne Biastoch, Charlie N. Barron, and Wilhelmus P. M. de Ruijter
In Ocean Modelling, 2009, volume 29, pages 269-276, doi:10.1016/j.ocemod.2009.05.005
The skill of numerical Lagrangian drifter trajectories in three numerical models is assessed by comparing these numerically obtained paths to the trajectories of drifting buoys in the real ocean. The skill assessment is performed using the two-sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov statistical test. To demonstrate the assessment procedure, it is applied to three different models of the Agulhas region. The test can either be performed using crossing positions of one-dimensional sections in order to test model performance in specific locations, or using the total two-dimensional data set of trajectories. The test yields four quantities: a binary decision of model skill, a confidence level which can be used as a measure of goodness-of-fit of the model, a test statistic which can be used to determine the sensitivity of the confidence level, and cumulative distribution functions that aid in the qualitative analysis. The ordering of models by their confidence levels is the same as the ordering based on the qualitative analysis, which suggests that the method is suited for model validation. Only one of the three models, a 1/10 degree two-way nested regional ocean model, might have skill in the Agulhas region. The other two models, a 1/2 degree global model and a 1/8 degree assimilative model, might have skill only on some sections in the region.
The paths of the drifting buoys (red) after they have crossed the release latitude in the Agulhas Current and the density of numerical drifter trajectories (blue) for numerical drifters in the upper 15 m in NCOM (upper), the ORCA model (middle), and the AG01 model (lower). The black dashed lines denote the locations where the crossing positions of numerical drifters and drifting buoys are compared, the letters are for reference with Fig. 5 and Tab. 1.