The main objective of the Coastal Ocean Dynamics Experiment (CODE) is to observe and describe the response of continental shelf waters to strong atmospheric forcing in a relatively simple geomorphological setting. In order to achieve this goal, CODE has been designed (1) to define the different space and time scales of the physical parameters important to the shelf flow field and (2) to identify and describe the essential kinematical and dynamical processes governing wind-driven circulation on the continental shelf.
A variety of models exist for the wind-forced response of continental shelf waters. The salient differences among these models lies in the assumed balances between terms in the governing equations. For example, Gill and Schumann  in a barotropic model assume a geostrophic cross-shelf momentum balance but include the time-dependent and surface and bottom stress terms in the along-shelf momentum balance. Csanady  in his arrested topographic wave model involving bottom friction assumes a quasisteady alongshelf response neglecting advective terms and retaining the geostrophic cross-shelf balance. Various shelf wave models assume inviscid dynamics and other models assume a simple balance between surface and bottom stress in shallow water. To test the different assumptions behind these models, all terms in the governing equations need to be accurately estimated.