SOCIB improves wave forecast in the Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB) has improved the Autonomous Wave Forecast System (SAPO, in its Spanish acronym) of the Balearic Islands region, a 72-hour forecast service developed by Puertos del Estado in collaboration with SOCIB. The SAPO IB operational system is executed in automatic mode twice a day, by means of the offshore wave and wind forecasts provided by Puertos del Estado. It provides the spatial and temporal evolution of wave state (height, period, and direction) around the Balearic Islands, from deep to shallow waters. Forecast results are available at the SOCIB Wave Forecast webpage and at SOCIB THREDDS Data Server. The data provided can be downloaded in KMZ and NetCDF format and can be directly visualized using Lw4nc2, which is a tool giving better control and functionality.

Using ocean forecasting tools, SAPO simulations provide wave (height, period, and direction) predictions for the next 3 days in 5 different points of the Balearic sea. Three of these points match with buoy locations making it possible to compare buoy data with model reanalysis. The fully operational system embraces 4 single operatives that account for 12-hour of reanalysis hindcast and 72-hour forecast. Both the 1,4 km resolution aggregation of Puertos del Estado forecast of the Balearic Islands region, and the finer resolution (0,5 km) single simulations around Mallorca, Menorca, and Pitiuses Islands are run at the computing center of SOCIB.

Furthermore, SAPO IB forecast is part of the SOCIB Lifeguard App that provides atmospheric and oceanographic variables at the points closest to the 352 beaches in the Balearic Islands where there is a lifeguard service mesh. Thus, it is a support tool for lifeguards to fill in the memories of incidents on the beaches, providing objective and comparable data for statistical purposes. It is also used for planning and decision-making, resulting in an improvement in the safety of bathing areas.

Novelties of the new SAPO IB operative rely on a decrease of the numerical modelling time by means of a new computing machine at SOCIB, reducing it from 6 hours to 35 minutes, and ensuring an on-time wave forecast. In addition, a complete notification system has been implemented, designed to ensure a fast response in case of operative failure. Finally, the compression of files containing forecast results has been reduced to half to ease the handling of model datasets for end-users.