Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (Mar 2021)

Simulating the Coastal Ocean Circulation Near the Cape Peninsula Using a Coupled Numerical Model

  • Marc de Vos,
  • Marcello Vichi,
  • Christo Rautenbach

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 359
p. 359


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A coupled numerical hydrodynamic model is presented for the Cape Peninsula region of South Africa. The model is intended to support a range of interdisciplinary coastal management and research applications, given the multifaceted socio-economic and ecological value of the study area. Calibration and validation are presented, with the model reproducing the mean circulation well. Maximum differences between modelled and measured mean surface current speeds and directions of 3.9 × 10−2 m s−1 and 20.7°, respectively, were produced near Cape Town, where current velocities are moderate. At other measurement sites, the model closely reproduces mean surface and near-bed current speeds and directions and outperforms a global model. In simulating sub-daily velocity variability, the model’s skill is moderate, and similar to that of a global model, where comparison is possible. It offers the distinct advantage of producing information where the global model cannot, however. Validation for temperature and salinity is provided, indicating promising performance. The model produces a range of expected dynamical features for the domain including upwelling and vertical current shear. Nuances in circulation patterns are revealed; specifically, the development of rotational flow patterns within False Bay is qualified and an eddy in Table Bay is identified.