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nowcoast/guidance_model_coastalocean_nwgofs_time (MapServer)

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Service Description:
Last Revised: February 2016

Map Information

This nowCOAST™ time-enabled map service provides maps of the latest nowcasts and forecast guidance of water temperature, salinity, water currents, and combined (tides + wind driven) water level from the NOS Northwest Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast System (NWGOFS) at hourly increments out to 48 hours. The surface water currents velocity maps display the direction using white or black streaklets depending on the color background. Four color backgrounds are available: sea surface water temperature, surface salinity, speed of currents, and water level. For water temperature, a color scale from dark blue to medium orange is used to display temperatures from about 28 degrees F to 88+ degrees F at 2 degree increments. For salinity, a color scale from black to dark red is used to display salinity values from 0 to 40 ppt at 4 ppt increments. Colors were chosen to highlight approximate thresholds for freshwater, brackish water, and saline waters. For speed, a color scale from black to gray is used to depict speeds from 0 to 4 knots at 0.5 knot increments, except for 0.25 knot intervals from 0 to 0.5 knots. For water level, a color scale from pink to red is used to depict water levels from -14 ft to +12 ft at mainly 0.5 ft increments. The water levels are referenced to the OFS model sea level and not to MLLW, MSL, or NAVD88. The maps of NWGOFS forecast guidance are updated in the nowCOAST™ map service four times per day. For more detailed information about layer update frequency and timing, please reference the nowCOAST™ Dataset Update Schedule.

Background Information

NWGOFS is based on the Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM), a numerical ocean circulation or hydrodynamic prediction model. The OFS grid domain covers coastal Northwest Gulf of Mexico waters from approximately Matagorda Bay, Texas to Tigre Point, Louisiana. NWGOFS is a 3-D forecast modeling system . NWGOFS has 40 vertical levels. It has four forecast cycles per day (0300, 0900, 1500, and 2100 UTC) which generate forecast guidance out to 48 hours. The forecast cycle uses 3-hourly forecast guidance of surface winds radiation fluxes from NCEP North American Mesoscale (NAM) model (4 km resolution) and derived heat fluxes from NAM model meteorological variables for the FVCOM surface meteorological forcing. For forcing at the lateral ocean boundary, the OFS uses water temperature and salinity forecast guidance from the full Northern Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast System (NGOFS) and sub-tidal water level forecast guidance from GRTOFS along with tidal harmonics derived from the regional tide model via the ADCIRC ec2011 database. For river boundary conditions, it uses near-real-time discharges from USGS river gages and near-real-time water temperature observations from USGS gages and/or NOS gages. Each forecast cycle is preceded with a 6-hr long nowcast cycle. The final nowcast serves as the initial conditions for each forecast cycle. The nowcoast cycle is driven by very short-range forecasts of surface wind, radiation fluxes, and derived heat fluxes from the NAM model, persisted river observations, and GRTOFS subtidal water levels plus tidal harmonics from the tide model. NWGOFS was developed and evaluated by the NOAA/NOS Coast Survey Development Laboratory Coastal Marine Modeling Branch in collaboration with the NOS Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. NWGOFS became operational in September 2014. NWGOFS is run on the NOAA Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputer System (WCOSS) operated by NCEP Central Operations.

The maps are generated using a visualization technique developed by the Data Visualization Research Lab at The University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping ( The method combines two techniques. First, equally spaced streamlines are computed in the flow field using Jobard and Lefer's (1977) algorithm. Second, a series of "streaklets" are rendered head to tail along each streamline to show the direction of flow. Each of these varies along its length in size, color and transparency using a method developed by Fowler and Ware (1989), and later refined by Mr. Pete Mitchell and Dr. Colin Ware (Mitchell, 2007).

Time Information

This map service is time-enabled, meaning that each individual layer contains time-varying data and can be utilized by clients capable of making map requests that include a time component.

In addition to ArcGIS Server REST access, time-enabled OGC WMS 1.3.0 access is also provided by this service.

This particular service can be queried with or without the use of a time component. If the time parameter is specified in a request, the data or imagery most relevant to the provided time value, if any, will be returned. If the time parameter is not specified in a request, the latest data or imagery valid for the present system time will be returned to the client. If the time parameter is not specified and no data or imagery is available for the present time, no data will be returned.

This service is configured with time coverage support, meaning that the service will always return the most relevant available data, if any, to the specified time value. For example, if the service contains data valid today at 12:00 and 12:10 UTC, but a map request specifies a time value of today at 12:07 UTC, the data valid at 12:10 UTC will be returned to the user. This behavior allows more flexibility for users, especially when displaying multiple time-enabled layers together despite slight differences in temporal resolution or update frequency.

When interacting with this time-enabled service, only a single instantaneous time value should be specified in each request. If instead a time range is specified in a request (i.e. separate start time and end time values are given), the data returned may be different than what was intended.

Care must be taken to ensure the time value specified in each request falls within the current time coverage of the service. Because this service is frequently updated as new data becomes available, the user must periodically determine the service's time extent. However, due to software limitations, the time extent of the service and map layers as advertised by ArcGIS Server does not always provide the most up-to-date start and end times of available data. Instead, users have three options for determining the latest time extent of the service:

  1. Issue a returnUpdates=true request (ArcGIS REST protocol only) for an individual layer or for the service itself, which will return the current start and end times of available data, in epoch time format (milliseconds since 00:00 January 1, 1970). To see an example, click on the "Return Updates" link at the bottom of the REST Service page under "Supported Operations". Refer to the ArcGIS REST API Map Service Documentation for more information.
  2. Issue an Identify (ArcGIS REST) or GetFeatureInfo (WMS) request against the proper layer corresponding with the target dataset. For raster data, this would be the "Image Footprints with Time Attributes" layer in the same group as the target "Image" layer being displayed. For vector (point, line, or polygon) data, the target layer can be queried directly. In either case, the attributes returned for the matching raster(s) or vector feature(s) will include the following:
    • validtime: Valid timestamp.
    • starttime: Display start time.
    • endtime: Display end time.
    • reftime: Reference time (sometimes referred to as issuance time, cycle time, or initialization time).
    • projmins: Number of minutes from reference time to valid time.
    • desigreftime: Designated reference time; used as a common reference time for all items when individual reference times do not match.
    • desigprojmins: Number of minutes from designated reference time to valid time.
  3. Query the nowCOAST™ LayerInfo web service, which has been created to provide additional information about each data layer in a service, including a list of all available "time stops" (i.e. "valid times"), individual timestamps, or the valid time of a layer's latest available data (i.e. "Product Time"). For more information about the LayerInfo web service, including examples of various types of requests, refer to the nowCOAST™ LayerInfo Help Documentation


Map Name: NOAA NOS Northwest Gulf of Mexico Operational Forecast System (NWGOFS) Forecast Guidance (Time Enabled)


All Layers and Tables

Dynamic Legend

Dynamic All Layers

Layers: Description:


Spatial Reference: 102100  (3857)

Single Fused Map Cache: false

Initial Extent: Full Extent: Time Info: Units: esriMeters


Document Info: Supports Dynamic Layers: true

MaxRecordCount: 1000

MaxImageHeight: 4096

MaxImageWidth: 4096

Supported Query Formats: JSON, AMF, geoJSON

Min Scale: 0

Max Scale: 0

Supports Datum Transformation: true

Child Resources:   Info   Dynamic Layer

Supported Operations:   Export Map   Identify   Find   Return Updates