Ocean modeling and Data Assimilation

The ODA Division focuses on the development and validation of ocean circulation and biogeochemical models at global and regional scales (Mediterranean and Black Sea). Such models are used in several different applications, which go from stand-alone simulations in hindcast and forecast mode to coupled configurations in the CMCC Earth System Model (ESM). Variational data assimilation methods are applied to rebuild the evolution of the system during the period of time covered by the in-situ and satellite observations (ocean reanalysis) and to produce realistic oceanic initial conditions to be used in the initialization of models for short-term forecasting and climate predictions on scales from the seasonal to the decadal ones (this last application is in collaboration with the CSP Division). In particular, an important objective of the ODA Division is to develop oceanographic numerical models and data assimilation systems for the operational production of global and regional oceanographic analyses and forecasts at a very high resolution.

The ODA Division coordinates the CMCC contribution to the the Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean (NEMO, https://www.nemo-ocean.eu/) Consortium, which is responsible of the development and reliability of the NEMO system and is also member of the Biogeochemical Flux Model (BFM, http://bfm-community.eu) Consortium with the aim to contribute to the development and dissemination of the BFM.

ODA Projects

  • CRIceS - Climate relevant interactions and feedbacks: the key role of sea ice and snow in the polar and global climate system

    The Arctic and Antarctic regions are experiencing rapid and unprecedented changes due…

  • CE2COAST - Downscaling Climate and Ocean Change to Services: Thresholds and Opportunities

    Global change from anthropogenic forcing will have significant impacts at regional and…

  • Escape 2 - Energy-efficient SCalable Algorithms for weather and climate Prediction at Exascale

    ESCAPE-2 will develop world-class, extreme-scale computing capabilities for European operational numerical weather…

  • ODA Publications

    On the physical nudging equations

    Conti G. , Aydogdu A., Gualdi S., Navarra A., Tribbia J.
    2021, Climate Dynamic, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-021-05972-w, web page

    Ocean Mesoscale Variability: A Case Study on the Mediterranean Sea From a Re-Analysis Perspective

    Bonaduce A., Cipollone A., Johannessen J.A., Staneva J., Raj R.P., Aydogdu A.
    2021, Frontiers in Earth Science, 9,816, DOI: 10.3389/feart.2021.724879, web page

    Freshwater in the Arctic Ocean 2010–2019

    Solomon A. , Heuzé C. , Rabe B. , Bacon S., Bertino L., Heimbach P., Inoue J., Iovino D., Mottram R., Zhang X., Aksenov Y., McAdam R., Nguyen A., Raj R., and Tang H.
    2021, Ocean Science, Ocean Sci., 17, 1081–1102, 2021, DOI: https://doi.org/10.5194/os-17-1081-2021, web page

    ODA Models

  • CMCC-ESM - Earth System Model

    The Earth System Modeling Unit at ODA division is devoted to the…

    Future Earth, Ocean.

  • LIM

    LIM is a numerical model of sea ice designed for climate studies…

    Future Earth, Ocean.

  • OceanVar

    OceanVar is the variational ocean data assimilation system developed at CMCC to…

    Future Earth, Ocean.

  • Global Ocean Forecasting System (GOFS16)

    GOFS16-2019-05-30 alle 13.36.33

    Division Director

    Simona Masina

    Division Manager

    Loredana Amato


    via C. Berti Pichat 6/2 – 40127 Bologna, Italy

    [email protected]

    Research Units

    Leader: Momme Butenschön

    The biosphere of our planet is subject to multiple anthropogenic stressors, such as climate change, eutrophication and overfishing. These stressors affect health and functioning of the ecosystem provoking substantial impacts and feedbacks in the Earth system dynamics with crucial consequences to the services that nature provides to human society, such as climate regulation, energy and food provision. The understanding and quantification of these interactions are fundamental in facing the resulting challenges inflicted on our society and are at the core of this group’s activity with a strong focus given to the marine system.

    To this purpose, the group performs and analyses a wide range of simulations of the Earth System and the marine component at global and regional scales. The assessment of climate change and other anthropogenic drivers ranges from time scales covering the recent past, present state and short-term forecast to future projections. These generic scenarios are complemented by specific scenarios of the sustainability of solution pathways addressing the emerging challenges, such as acidification and carbon sequestration. The group develops and maintains CMCC’s Earth System Model and the Biogeochemical Flux Model (BFM) for the marine ecosystem and collaborates with the colleagues working on the development of the NEMO system for ocean dynamics.

    Leader: Andrea Cipollone

    The Data Assimilation and Ocean Forecasting Unit is devoted to the development and implementation of data assimilation methods (OceanVar) and procedures. Data assimilation is the process that combines ocean observations with numerical models in order to provide the best estimate of the ocean state. This has a twofold application: production of global ocean reanalyses (C-GLORS) and high-resolution global ocean operational forecasts. The former activity is performed in the context of several international projects and initiatives, with the aim of providing an estimate of the ocean climate in the last decades, for use in climate studies, initialization of seasonal and decadal predictions, and to serve as boundary or input for regional or downstream applications. The latter has the objective of producing forecasts of the ocean weather in real-time, for use in a variety of societal activities (e.g. search and rescue, oil spill, tourism, ship routing, etc.) in collaboration with the OPA Division. The unit works in close cooperation with the Ocean and Sea-ice Modeling Unit, in particular collaborating on the configuration of the ocean general circulation model NEMO and sea-ice model LIM.

    Leader: Emanuela Clementi

    The primary objective of the Regional Ocean Modeling Unit of the ODA Division is to develop and implement a coupled wave-ocean modeling system in the Mediterranean Sea. The numerical system developed by this group represents the core of the operational system provided in the framework of the Copernicus Marine Service, which operationally provides information on the main physical characteristics of the Mediterranean Sea: temperature, salinity, currents, sea surface height, mixed layer depth, in terms of analysis of the previous days, forecast of the following 10 days and reanalysis of the previous years.

    The activities of the group focus on the continuous upgrade of the Mediterranean Sea analysis and forecast modeling system at both technical and scientific levels by planning model developments, designing experiments, analysing and validating the results through the comparison with in-situ and satellite remote sensing observations. The numerical ocean prediction system is implemented in the Mediterranean Sea at 1/24 degree (ca. 4.5 km) horizontal resolution, it is based on a ocean circulation model NEMO (Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean) 2-way coupled with the 3rd generation spectral model WaveWatch3 and includes a Data Assimilation component (OceanVar) for the assimilation of Sea Level Anomaly, Temperature and Salinity profiles.

    The group has also an active role in the NEMO System Team contributing to the development of the ocean circulation model and is primary involved in the developments of wave-current interactions processes.

    The group collaborates with the “Data Assimilation and Ocean Forecasting” and “Global Ocean and Sea-Ice Modeling” groups of the ODA division, as well as with other CMCC divisions, in particular with the Ocean Prediction and Applications (OPA) division on the OceanVar development for the Black Sea and the reanalysis production.

    Leader: Dorotea Iovino

    Primary goal of the Ocean and Sea-ice Modeling group is to understand the physical processes of the global ocean/sea-ice system. Dynamics of ocean currents and their variability over the past decades, the distribution and transport of heat and salt, how sea-ice variability can affect the global thermohaline circulation are some of our main research topics. Numerical modeling is the principal tool used for those studies that require scientific and technical model development, experiment design, interpretation and evaluation of the numerical calculations. The group designs, performs and analyses global ocean/sea-ice simulations, in a range of grid resolutions, based on the NEMO (Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean) framework. 
    To progress in fundamental ocean process understanding and to explore the scientific and technological frontiers of capability in global ocean modelling, the group has, as one of its foremost objectives, the development and implementation of high-resolution global configurations. In the last years, to realistically reproduce the effect of mesoscale features on the large-scale ocean circulation, we tackled the challenge of simulating an eddying ocean with a horizontal resolution of 1/16° (6.9 km at the equator), currently the highest resolution implemented in a global NEMO domain. This configuration constitutes the physical core of the CMCC short-term global ocean/sea ice forecasting system, developed in close collaboration with the data assimilation group. The system operates on a daily basis to provide 7-day forecasts of the ocean state since spring 2017.
    This group prepares and maintains the state-of-the-art ocean components for the data assimilation system and the Earth system model, and strongly collaborates with other CMCC divisions.
    A substantial fraction of the group’s efforts goes in developing and maintaining the NEMO-OPA Ocean General Circulation Model, through an active role in the NEMO System Team. The group also contributes to the improvement and evaluation of sea ice components, and is actively involved in the development of the new “Sea Ice modelling Integrated Initiative” (SI3), in collaboration with international institutions.
    A new task for this research group is to describe, together with the general ocean circulation, the development and evolution of wind-generated surface waves, and to reproduce the impact of the oceanic wave field on upper-ocean mixing and mean ocean properties. The overall goal is to develop a coupled wave-ocean modeling system for the global domain for hindcast and forecast applications.

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