Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Oceanography


Physical Oceanography



First Advisor

Christopher Kincaid


Computer models are important tools for understanding coastal environments, predicting the impacts of human activity and climate change, and managing finite marine resources. This study examines performance of the new Ocean State Ocean Model (OSOM), an implementation of the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) optimized for research on the coastal waters of Rhode Island, including the Narragansett Bay (NB) estuary and the inner shelf waters of Rhode Island Sound (RIS). Along the way, we investigate the dynamics of RIS, focusing on the processes by which RIS receives and exports water via a well-documented coastal current, using spatially-temporally detailed current meter data. Observational data collected during May-October 2010 are used to describe the RIS coastal current, some key environmental conditions, and explore correlations to important environmental forcing factors. Our data show a coastal current with general characteristics consistent with past studies; however, we find the driving forces to be a spatially variable and complex combination of tidal rectification, surface wind forcing, and other unidentified factors requiring further study. The methods for analyzing the coastal current and their results are then applied to validate OSOM for studying water transport from BB to NB. The validation examines sea surface height, de-tided (residual) water current velocity (varying time scales), and sea water temperatures, finding OSOM performance inadequate for studying questions about water movement over the relevant time periods of subtidal BB to NB communication on the order of days to weeks. Finally, validation analysis indicates areas for further experimentation and model development that may improve future performance.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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