A Global Evaluation of Ocean Bottom Pressure from GRACE, OMCT, and Steric-Corrected Altimetry

Don P. Chambers College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida

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Josh K. Willis NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

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Abstract

Ocean bottom pressure (OBP) from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and the Ocean Model for Circulation and Tides (OMCT) are compared globally with OBP computed from altimetry corrected for steric variations from Argo floats from January 2005 to December 2007. Two methods of smoothing the GRACE data are examined. The first uses a standard Gaussian smoother with a radius of 300 km. The second method projects those smoothed maps onto empirical orthogonal functions derived from OMCT in a least squares estimation in order to produce maps that better agree with the physical processes embodied by the model. These new maps agree significantly better with estimates from the steric-corrected altimetry, reducing the variance on average by 30% over 70% of the ocean. This is compared to smaller reductions over only 14% of the ocean using the 300-km Gaussian maps and 56% of the ocean using OMCT maps. The OMCT maps do not reduce variance as much in the Southern Ocean where OBP variations are largest, whereas the GRACE maps do. Based on this analysis, it is estimated that the local, or point-to-point, uncertainty of new EOF filtered maps of GRACE OBP is 1.3 (one standard deviation).

Corresponding author address: Don P. Chambers, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Ave. S, MSL119, St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5016. Email: dchambers@marine.usf.edu

Abstract

Ocean bottom pressure (OBP) from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and the Ocean Model for Circulation and Tides (OMCT) are compared globally with OBP computed from altimetry corrected for steric variations from Argo floats from January 2005 to December 2007. Two methods of smoothing the GRACE data are examined. The first uses a standard Gaussian smoother with a radius of 300 km. The second method projects those smoothed maps onto empirical orthogonal functions derived from OMCT in a least squares estimation in order to produce maps that better agree with the physical processes embodied by the model. These new maps agree significantly better with estimates from the steric-corrected altimetry, reducing the variance on average by 30% over 70% of the ocean. This is compared to smaller reductions over only 14% of the ocean using the 300-km Gaussian maps and 56% of the ocean using OMCT maps. The OMCT maps do not reduce variance as much in the Southern Ocean where OBP variations are largest, whereas the GRACE maps do. Based on this analysis, it is estimated that the local, or point-to-point, uncertainty of new EOF filtered maps of GRACE OBP is 1.3 (one standard deviation).

Corresponding author address: Don P. Chambers, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Ave. S, MSL119, St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5016. Email: dchambers@marine.usf.edu

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