Numerical Modeling of Bioluminescence Distributions in the Coastal Ocean* Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Bioluminescence (BL) predictability experiments (predictions of the intensity, depth, and distance offshore of the BL maximum) were conducted using an advective–diffusive tracer model with velocities and diffusivities from a fine-resolution model of the Monterey Bay, California, area. For tracer initialization, observations were assimilated into the tracer model while velocities and diffusivities were taken from the hydrodynamic model and kept unchanged during the initialization process. This dynamic initialization procedure provides an equilibrium tracer distribution that is balanced with the velocity and diffusivity fields from the hydrodynamic model. This equilibrium BL distribution was used as the initial BL field for 3 days of prognostic calculations. Two cross-shore surveys of bioluminescence data conducted at two locations (north of the bay and inside the bay) were used in four numerical experiments designed to estimate the limits of bioluminescence predictions by tracers. The cross-shore sections extended to around 25 km offshore, they were around 30 m deep, and on average they were approximately 35 km apart from each other. Bioluminescence predictability experiments demonstrated a strong utility of the tracer model (combined with limited bioluminescence observations and with the output from a circulation model) in predicting (over a 72-h period and over 25–35-km distances) the location and intensity of the BL maximum. Analysis of the model velocity fields and observed and model-predicted bioluminesence fields shows that the BL maximum is located in the frontal area representing a strong reversal of flow direction.

publication date

  • July 1, 2003