Research Program

Brazilian Node:

The Brazilian node is centered at the Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences (IAG-USP) of the University of São Paulo. There will be close collaboration with the Center for Marine Studies of the Federal University of Paraná (CEM-UFPR). The node leader is Dr. Ricardo de Camargo (IAG) with the support of Dr. Eduardo Marone (CEM).

The Brazilian node will focus on (i) extreme sea level and coastal flooding, and (ii) extreme deep ocean currents. Research on extreme sea level will focus on the South Brazil Bight, the most populated and developed coastal region of Brazil with numerous important harbours (e.g., Santos, Paranaguá, Sepetiba, Itajai, Rio Grande). Research on extreme currents will focus on the offshore oil fields of the Campos and Santos Basins.

A postdoctoral fellow based at University of São Paulo but will work closely with researchers from the Federal University of Paraná. The research activities are given below.

Extreme coastal sea level: During the first two years, the postdoctoral fellow will undertake a major historical reconstruction (hindcast) of hourly sea level fields for the South Brazil Bight for 1980 to the present. The reconstruction will be carried out using the Princeton Ocean Model implemented for the study region. The model will include the effect of tides and atmospheric forcing (wind and air pressure fields from reanalyses). Particular attention will be paid to the verification of the model’s predictions of extreme sea levels using observations that have already been collected for the region. Following successful testing and tuning of the model, the results will be used to produce maps of the 50 year return levels for the South Brazil Bight using a methodology developed by researchers from the Canadian node. The impact of global sea level rise on the return level maps will be estimated and used to identify regions most at risk of flooding over the next century. The postdoctoral fellow will also examine the sensitivity of coastal flooding to changes in the main cyclogenesis region off southeastern South America and Brazil-Malvinas Confluence Region. This region is important for extra tropical cyclone development and propagation, and consequently, for precipitation events over the continent as well as surges and surface waves that impact directly the coastal area. This part of the project will be carried out in close collaboration with researchers from the University of São Paulo who will provide wind and air pressure fields to drive the surge model generated under different climate scenarios for the cyclogenesis region.

Extreme Offshore Currents: The second phase of research will focus on short-term forecasting of extreme currents (one to tens of days) for the oil rich Campos and Santos Basins. Campos is about 100 km from shore in water between 600 and 2000 m deep; Santos Basin is about 300 km south east of São Paulo. The novelty of the research will be the specification of the open boundary conditions for a regional ocean model using forecasts from the 0.1 degree global ocean model made available through the Australian node. (Results from the Australian global ocean model should be available by 2011, see above.) The underlying question is “can the forecasts of extreme currents in the oil fields be improved using forecasts from a global ocean model?” Collaborations with the following Brazilian institutions will be put in place as soon as possible in order to expand the local network: the Millennium Institute RECOS (a virtual institute of about 50 researchers from 15 institutions); the Institute of Oceanography of the University of São Paulo; the National Institute for Space Research; the Center for Weather Forecast and Climate Studies.

Close collaboration with the Canadian, Australian and UK nodes on both subprojects is anticipated. The lead scientist is Dr. Ricardo de Camargo with the cooperation of Dr. Eduardo Marone.