Photo courtesy of Shane Sadoway
Marine operators in Alaskan coastal waters and adjacent seas are sensitive to weather constraints. Among the stakeholder groups affected are commercial shippers (including barge operators), coastal communities, fishing vessel operators and the offshore oil and gas industry.
Discussions with these stakeholder groups have indicated that standard information products are sometimes difficult to use, such as contoured forecasts of wave state. Decision makers engaged in the marine transportation sector in the Alaska Region and the North Pacific require information about sailing conditions that are tailored for their needs. Thus, there is a need for products that would enable “go/no-go” decisions over timescales of several days, as well as monthly to seasonal outlooks that would facilitate decisions related to scheduling and routing. This means that integrating data about wind speed, direction, and duration to create a novel metric that provides information integral to support the decision making process.
At the same time, coastal communities and other stakeholder groups likely have other needs that are not being met by existing products, especially on timescales beyond the several-day range of operational weather forecasts. While the functional indicator is initially aimed at serving the marine transportation sector, it potentially provides value to these additional groups.
The undertaking of this process entails determining the types of storm-relevant information that would best inform their decision-making through stakeholder interviews, determining the amount of forecast skill necessary at various forecast ranges in order to impact their decision-making processes, and iterating with stakeholders, using their feedback to improve storminess products and the accessibility of needed information.
Using lessons learned from these initial stakeholder interactions, we will expand our target pool of users. Close communication with these groups will enable effective communication of the science to user communities on the topic of storms in Alaskan offshore and coastal regions.