AbstractThe Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) has been employed to explore the sensitivity of the forecast skill of mixed-layer properties to initial conditions, boundary conditions, and vertical mixing parameterisations. The initial and lateral boundary conditions were provided by the Mediterranean Forecasting System (MFS) or by the MERCATOR global ocean circulation model via one-way nesting; the initial conditions were additionally updated through the assimilation of observations. Nowcasts and forecasts from the weather forecast models COSMO-ME and COSMO-IT, partly melded with observations, served as surface boundary conditions. The vertical mixing was parameterised by the GLS (generic length scale) scheme Umlauf and Burchard (2003) in four different set-ups. All ROMS forecasts were validated against the observations which were taken during the REP14-MED survey to the west of Sardinia. Nesting ROMS in MERCATOR and updating the initial conditions through data assimilation provided the best agreement of the predicted mixed-layer properties with the time series from a moored thermistor chain. Further improvement was obtained by the usage of COSMO-ME atmospheric forcing, which was melded with real observations, and by the application of the k-ω vertical mixing scheme with increased vertical eddy diffusivity. The predicted temporal variability of the mixed-layer temperature was reasonably well correlated with the observed variability, while the modelled variability of the mixed-layer depth exhibited only agreement with the observations near the diurnal frequency peak. For the forecasted horizontal variability, reasonable agreement was found with observations from a ScanFish section, but only for the mesoscale wave number band; the observed sub-mesoscale variability was not reproduced by ROMS.