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An Inversion–Assimilation Approach Using Hydrographic Data in a Coarse-Resolution Ocean Model

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  • 1 Department of Mathematics, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
  • | 2 Southampton Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Attempts to estimate the state of the ocean usually involve one of two approaches: either an assimilation of data (typically altimetric surface height) is performed or an inversion is carried out according to some minimization scheme. The former case normally retains some version of the time-dependent equations of motion; the latter is usually steady. Data sources are frequently not ideal for either approach, usually being spatially and temporally confined (e.g., from an oceanographic cruise). This raises particular difficulties for inversions, whose physics seldom includes much beyond the geostrophic balance. In this paper the authors examine an approach midway between the two, examining several questions. (i) What is the impact of data assimilated continuously to a steady state on regions outside the data sources? (ii) Can remote data improve the long-term mean of a model whose natural response is not close to climatology? (iii) Can an eddy-free model assimilate data containing eddies?

The authors employ an inversion using a simple North Atlantic model, which permits no eddies, but contains better dynamics than geostrophy (the frictional planetary geostrophic equations), and an assimilative scheme rather simpler than those normally employed, almost equivalent to direct data insertion, run to a steady state. The data used are real subsurface data, which do contain eddies, from World Ocean Circulation Experiment cruises in the northern North Atlantic. The presence of noise in these data is found to cause no numerical difficulties, and the authors show that the impact of even one vertical profile can strongly modify the water mass properties of the solution far from the data region through a combination of wave propagation, advection, and diffusion. Because the model can be run for very long times, the region of impact is thus somewhat wider than would occur for assimilations over short intervals, such as a year.

 *Current affiliation: Ocean Applications, Met Office, Bracknell, Berkshire, United Kingdom.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Adrian Hines, Ocean Applications, Met Office, Room 254A, London Road, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 2SZ, United Kingdom. Email: ahines@meto.gov.uk.

Abstract

Attempts to estimate the state of the ocean usually involve one of two approaches: either an assimilation of data (typically altimetric surface height) is performed or an inversion is carried out according to some minimization scheme. The former case normally retains some version of the time-dependent equations of motion; the latter is usually steady. Data sources are frequently not ideal for either approach, usually being spatially and temporally confined (e.g., from an oceanographic cruise). This raises particular difficulties for inversions, whose physics seldom includes much beyond the geostrophic balance. In this paper the authors examine an approach midway between the two, examining several questions. (i) What is the impact of data assimilated continuously to a steady state on regions outside the data sources? (ii) Can remote data improve the long-term mean of a model whose natural response is not close to climatology? (iii) Can an eddy-free model assimilate data containing eddies?

The authors employ an inversion using a simple North Atlantic model, which permits no eddies, but contains better dynamics than geostrophy (the frictional planetary geostrophic equations), and an assimilative scheme rather simpler than those normally employed, almost equivalent to direct data insertion, run to a steady state. The data used are real subsurface data, which do contain eddies, from World Ocean Circulation Experiment cruises in the northern North Atlantic. The presence of noise in these data is found to cause no numerical difficulties, and the authors show that the impact of even one vertical profile can strongly modify the water mass properties of the solution far from the data region through a combination of wave propagation, advection, and diffusion. Because the model can be run for very long times, the region of impact is thus somewhat wider than would occur for assimilations over short intervals, such as a year.

 *Current affiliation: Ocean Applications, Met Office, Bracknell, Berkshire, United Kingdom.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Adrian Hines, Ocean Applications, Met Office, Room 254A, London Road, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 2SZ, United Kingdom. Email: ahines@meto.gov.uk.

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