Describing spatial coherence of hydrodynamic conditions typically includes analysis of long time series of model results and site specific bathymetric and hydrodynamic features. This complex task often involves a time-consuming qualitative analysis to identify the critical physical processes for normal and extreme conditions. A methodology for skillful reduction of the system dimensions and determination of the most important current patterns can provide a more quantitative analysis of the coherence and variability of complex spatial time series. The objective of this study is to decompose transects of velocity in the hydrodynamically complex Fehmarn Belt area into Empirical Orthogonal Functions (EOF) and determine their relative contribution to the total variance. This will help marine engineers and contractors to gain a more quantitative and accessible picture of the changes in the current transects and to obtain an overview of current shear pattern while performing complex and exquisite operations.

18 years of hindcast data from a three-dimensional flow model are used for performing the EOF analysis. After performing the EOF analysis, the most important and dominant current patterns are extracted. The analysis reveals that the first eigenmode explains about 89 % of the variance and resembles the barotrpic flow at the cross-section while other EOF modes represent various modes of the baroclinic flow. The results are compared to EOF analysis of two ADCP measurements installed on the seabed and comparisons with similar analysis of model output are performed.

It is shown that the whole time series can be reconstructed with much fewer degrees of freedom and almost no data loss by using only the first five EOF modes.

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