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Support for ICZM and MSP In the Adriatic Sea Region
Using ROMS Model, COAWST System for Coastal Zone Management


Aniello Russo

Dr. Sandro Carniel

Dr. Alvise Benetazzo



The Adriatic Sea region, modeled at 2-kilometer resolution. Locations of the ISMAR-CNR tower, buoys E1 and S1 and the AWAC system are also shown.
Delineated on three of its sides by the Italian coasts and the Balkans, the Adriatic Sea is a northwest-southeast, elongated, semienclosed basin, about 700 kilometers long and 200 kilometers wide, opening to the Mediterranean Sea through the Otranto Strait. It is characterized by Bora (from the northeast) and Sirocco (from the southeast) winds, which can cause high waves and littoral erosion, mostly in the northwest shallow coasts. The Adriatic Sea is an area of great environmental and socioeconomic value (e.g., the Gulf of Venice). Thanks to the ease of access and number of scientific institutions based along its coast, it has very often been selected as a test case study for international, European Union and Italian government-funded projects. Its northern part, which is very shallow and collects large river runoff (with drainage basin characterized by intensive farming and hosting several industries), hosts tourism, fishery, extracting and maritime transport activities. This area also presents several environmental concerns like eutrophication, anoxic episodes, massive mucilaginous appearance, harmful algal blooms, small pelagic fish stock depletion and pollution.

We focus here on some modeling efforts using the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), a community, 3D, hydrostatic, finite difference model resolving the Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes equations. From the first Adriatic Sea implementation in its purely hydrodynamic configuration, which traces back to more than 10 years ago, to the currently available Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST) system, including wave-current-sediment interactions, several specific applications covering a wide range of spatial and temporal scales have been put forward. Here we review some of these implementations, based on recent code releases and resolution grids. Besides operational implementations, ROMS and COAWST systems are employed for cutting-edge research activities, mostly aimed at investigating sediment transport, coastal dynamics, environmental aspects, eggs and larvae dispersion and hypoxic events. Moreover, coupled ocean-atmosphere-wave-sediment applications and the possibility of employing two-way successive nesting techniques allow for very high resolutions nearshore the Italian coast and complex regions, such as small river mouth environments and artificial reefs. Resulting outputs written in NetCDF CF-compliant format are delivered via THREDDS (Thematic Real-time Environmental Distributed Data Services) data server to a growing number of users around the world.


AdriaROMS 4.0 System, Hydrodynamic Forecast
AdriaROMS 4.0 is a system running operationally at Hydro-Meteo-Climate Service of the Environmental Agency of Emilia Romagna (ARPA-SIMC) in Bologna, Italy, on a regularly spaced, 2-kilometer-resolution grid of the whole Adriatic Sea. It provides numerical hourly forecasts for 72 hours. Air-sea heat, momentum and water fluxes are interactively computed from the COSMO-I7 hourly outputs. COSMO-I7 is a nonhydrostatic, limited-area atmospheric model that is an Italian implementation of the Consortium for Small-scale Modeling (COSMO) model with horizontal resolution of 7 kilometers, boundary conditions provided by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting and assimilation of available observations (operational at ARPA-SIMC in agreement with the Italian Air Force Meteorological Service and ARPA Piemonte). Main tidal components are imposed at the open boundary, Otranto Straight. Po River discharge is introduced using real-time data, whereas runoff of other 48 rivers and karstic springs are introduced by using monthly climatology. Temperature, salinity, sea level and velocity conditions are provided by the Italian Operational Oceanography Groupís (GNOO) Mediterranean forecasting system.

AdriaROMS 4.0 outputs are used at ARPA-SIMC to feed several operational applications for purposes of civil and environmental protection. A morphodynamic 1D model is applied to coastal profiles in some exposed areas of the Emilia Romagna, south of the Po River delta, for early warning in case of sea inundation. It is enacted at the boundary of the profiles by the total water level derived by AdriaROMS 4.0 outputs and by the significant wave height obtained by high-resolution SWAN (Simulating Waves Nearshore) model.

The total water level from AdriaROMS 4.0, together with the 10-meter wind computed by COSMO-I7 and the significant wave height by SWAN-EMR (electromagnetic radiation), are also used as boundary conditions for the assessment and prediction of bathing-water quality in front of Rimini, a beach resort on the northwest Adriatic Coast. For this application, the specific model is based on Delft3D, and it has been implemented in the Emilia-Romagna Region Previbalneazione project. The model has been used for bathing-water profiles and management according to the European Union Directive 2006/7/CE.

Other applications that adopt AdriaROMS 4.0 outputs, albeit not in a strictly operational configuration, deal with rapid-response forecasts of oil spill dispersion in case of release at sea or from the coast (in conjunction with regional and coast guard authorities) and saline wedge intrusion predictions within the Po River.

Several oceanographic cruises, conducted especially in the northern Adriatic sub-basin by the Institute of Marine Sciences of the National Research Council (ISMAR-CNR) and Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Ancona (DISVA), as well as using ISMAR-CNR and ARPA-SIMC oceanographic buoys, have been regularly used for model validation. Recent results indicate that despite non-thorough data assimilation, AdriaROMS 4.0 maintains good performance, especially regarding surface temperatures. In the deeper regions, deviations of about 1į C indicate cooler waters with respect to measurements, with almost no drift in time. Salinities are more variable, and slightly saltier waters are modeled against measurements.


EMMA System, Hypoxia Forecast
Due to its peculiar morphologic, oceanographic and climatic conditions, together with anthropic pressure factors, the Adriatic Sea is extremely propitious to the growth of hypoanoxic (low or no oxygen) events. Anoxia causes consistent damages in terms of environmental quality of the coast, as well as quality and quantity of ichthyic and mariculture products. Consequently, EMMA (Environmental Management through Monitoring and Modeling of Anoxia) was designed under the EU LIFE-Environment framework with Italian and Slovenian partners. The project integrates different actors from academic, public authority and fishing associations, encouraging a synergy between research and business at the national and European levels toward a Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) approach. To continue this article please click here.



Aniello Russo is a physical oceanographer, assistant professor at Univ. of Ancona, and principal investigator in several international and national projects. Russo was awarded the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Command Coin in 2006.

Dr. Sandro Carniel is a physical oceanographer, senior scientist at ISMAR-CNR, principal investigator and leader in several international and national projects. He was awarded the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Command Coin in 2006.

Dr. Alvise Benetazzo received his bachelorís degree (magna cum laude) in civil engineering and Ph.D. from the University of Padua, Italy. He is a young researcher with ISMAR-CNR, Venice, Italy. His expertise is in mathematical models of ocean phenomena.







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