Ocean modelling and monitoring


Ocean modelling and monitoring

The coastal areas of islands in the Caribbean are subject to erosion and inundation due a number of causes, such as waves due to swell and hurricanes, storm surges, sea level rise, reef damage and human activity. Improving our understanding of ocean wave processes and energy dissipation along the islands coastline and surrounding waters is consequently essential for being able to assess the current and future risk of damage to both natural and man-made features, and is critical for making informed coastal management decisions.

To help facilitate this, this project has developed Caribbean-wide regional wave and hydrodynamic models that provide boundary conditions for high-resolution coastal water level, current and waves for local-scale beach modelling. Specifically the project has enhanced state-of-the-art ocean modelling frameworks such as NEMO (Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean) with region-specific adaptations and thermodynamic parameters, and has applied other specialist models and tools such as the LISFLOOD-FP rainfall runoff and inundation model, XBeach storm impact model and the SWAN wave model for local-scale modelling.

Whilst the enhancements made to Caribbean ocean modelling capabilities through this project benefit all countries within the region, many of the case studies conducted thus far have focused on St Vincent and the Grenadines due to the propensity of vulnerable infrastructure and settlements caused by the combined pressures of a shortage of low-lying land and an increase in coastal erosion on the eastern (windward) coast exposed to swell and storm waves from the North Atlantic. Multiple training and consultation workshops have also been conducted through the project, providing regional stakeholders with guidance on an array of ocean modelling software packages and tools used, and have been supported through a number of community-focussed events such as an exhibition on the theme of coastal resilience at Argyle International Airport in St Vincent in January 2019.

Countries supported

Caribbean region (including St Vincent and the Grenadines; Grenada; Belize; Jamaica)


  • Development of a regional ocean model for the Caribbean that includes tides, lateral boundary forcing, realistic thermodynamics and baroclinic dynamics and atmospheric forcing.
  • Development of a regional wave model for the Caribbean that includes atmospheric forcing.
  • Generalised assessment of the wave climate and coastal flooding and erosion hazard exposure for the Caribbean region
  • Implementation of a coastal wave model for the SE coast of St Vincent, focussing on a strip of reclaimed land in the vicinity of Argyle International Airport.
  • Flood risk assessment for Argyle International Airport during storm events under different seal level rise scenarios.
  • Provision of an acoustic wave and current (AWAC) gauge and training of local personnel in deployment and data interpretation.
  • Acquisition of in situ data on water level, currents and waves in the nearshore zone off the east coast of St Vincent where coastal erosion/retreat is being observed during both the hurricane (wet) and winter (dry) season.
  • Modelling of changes in beach profile at Black Point Beach (one of the most popular heritage and recreational parks on the windward coast of St Vincent) using a storm impact model.
  • Three training workshops held in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.
  • Development of software for tide gauge quality control and analysis
  • Development of a pilot data portal for sharing data and software


  • Advanced Scientific Techniques to Inform Integrated Coastal Zone Management (March 2021; Online). Multi-disciplinary workshop on the governance or management of the coastal zone. The principal themes were in situ sensor-based monitoring, habitat mapping via geo spatial modelling and remote sensing, and hydrodynamic modelling to determine coastal zone functioning and hazard assessment. The workshop concluded with a knowledge exchange exercise aimed at identifying scientific evidence needs to support policy development. https://noc-events.co.uk/conference/virtual-workshop-cmep-advanced-scientific-techniques-inform-integrated-coastal-zone
  • Stakeholder consultation on Coastal Monitoring and Modelling for Small Island Developing States (November 2020; Online). https://www.cmeprogramme.org/sites/cme-programme/files/documents/Caribbean%20workshop%20Summary%20Report.pdf
  • Monitoring and Modelling for Coastal Zone Management (March 2020; St Vincent and the Grenadines). Presentation and handover of the outputs of local case studies investigations to agencies responsible for managing the coastal and marine environments, and provision of more focussed modelling/technical support in response to specific feedback and requests. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEqOXRKtqTc&list=PLoYJVOchmO7F9eb_75NozU6znP5ze7RIb
  • Monitoring and Modelling for Coastal Zone Management (January 2019; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Grenada). Technical support and guidance on the software packages and modelling tools being used.
  • Monitoring and Modelling for Coastal Zone Management (March 2018; St Vincent and the Grenadines). Training provided on satellite oceanography, wave modelling and shoreline management.

Publications and reports

  • Quantifying processes contributing to marine hazards to inform coastal climate resilience assessments, demonstrated for the Caribbean Sea. S. Jevrejeva, L. Bricheno, J. Brown, D. Byrne, M. De Dominicis, A. Matthews, S. Rynders, H. Palamisaly and J. Wolf (2020). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 20, 2609–2626, doi: 10.5194/nhess-20-2609-2020
  • Guidance Note on the Application of Coastal Monitoring for Small Island Developing States. A. Becker, L. Bricheno, J. Brown and J. Wolf (2020). NOC R&C Report #74.
  • Development of a regional ocean model for the Caribbean, including 3D dynamics, thermodynamics and full surface flux forcing. C. Wilson, J. Harle and S. Wakelin (2019). NOC R&C Report #65.
  • Current and future vulnerability of Argyle International Airport to combined river and coastal flooding. B.T. Philips, J.M. Brown, A.E. Becker and A.J. Plater (2019). NOC R&C Report #68.
  • Deployment of an AWAC off the East coast of St Vincent, 2018-19. J. Wolf, G. Williams and J. Ayliffe (2019). NOC R&C Report #69.
  • St Vincent – Black Point Beach Modelling. T. Prime, J. Brown and J. Wolf (2019). NOC R&C Report #70.
  • Guidance Note on the Application of Coastal Modelling for Small Island Developing States. J. Wolf, A. Becker, L. Bricheno, J. Brown, D. Byrne, M. De Dominicis and B. Phillips (2020). NOC R&C Report #73.

Judith Wolf
Principal Investigator

Lucy Bricheno


Latest News

High biodiversity discovered in abyssal areas of Kiribati

Sep 2019
A study led by National Oceanography Centre (NOC) scientists, recently published in Frontiers in Marine Science, presents the first ever images of animals living below 4000 metres within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Kiribati, a remote island group in the Pacific. Industry-collected seabed photos revealed a high diversity, but low abundance, of complex animals. The majority of the observed seabed life was single-celled giant forams. This is comparable to similar...

3-Day conference and training workshop in St Vincent

Feb 2019
A 3-day Conference and Technical Workshop on ‘Monitoring and Modelling for Coastal Zone Management’ was held in Kingstown, at the Grenadine House Hotel, on 16-18 Jan 2019. This workshop was a follow-on from the Stakeholder Engagement workshop in March 2018, and many of the original participants attended. It was planned to be a more technical, hands-on workshop, with training and demos in various software packages, using datasets from St Vincent and the Grenadines. The training was provided...

Second deployment of AWAC gauge in St Vincent

Feb 2019
Second deployment of AWAC gauge in St Vincent The second deployment of a Nortek AWAC (Acoustic Waves and Currents) gauge for a two month period (Jan-Mar 2019) has taken place. The device, purchased for St Vincent and the Grenadines through the CME programme, was deployed by a team from Coastal Dynamics Ltd, based in Trinidad and Tobago. Before the deployment, the team provided a briefing on the setup of the instrument, at the Serenity Dive Shop in Calliaqua, which provided a boat and divers for the deployment. The briefing was attended by...

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Met Office visit

Feb 2019
This month Dr Wolf and Dr Jevrejeva completed visits to various government departments in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, including the Meteorological Services, National Parks Authority and the Maritime Administration (MARAD). On 14 of January the team visited the Met Office at the Argyle International Airport (AIA), meeting with the Manager, who talked about the Met Service activity. The team presented the Ocean Modelling and Monitoring for Small Island Developing States project, which...

NOC aims to develop a collaboration with the University of the West Indies

Jan 2019
NOC scientists Judith Wolf and Sveta Jevrejeva Just before the end of 2018 NOC scientists visited the University of the West Indies, in Jamaica, to discuss potential collaborations on projects aimed at understanding the impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Small Island Developing States. The group also discussed potential collaborations on the use of nature-based coastal defences, such mangroves and coral reefs. This forms part of the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme, which aims to enable safe and sustainable...