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Ann Gronell and Susan E. Wijffels

Abstract

This paper describes a method consisting of both automated statistical screening and manual quality control through expert visual inspection, which produces a historical ocean temperature archive of high quality—that is, nearly all profiles are unique (duplicate elimination) and 95% of bad data is eliminated. The complete process involves comprehensive duplicate elimination, an unreasonable gradient check, and statistical screening to distill out suspect profiles, which are then only eliminated (or partially so) during an expert manual visual inspection step. Statistical screening was optimized using an archive of known quality. Two iterations of statistical screening were required to identify the bulk of the bad data. Of an archive of about 121 000 profiles, the authors found they had to manually inspect 35% of profiles to remove 95% of the bad data. While costly, they argue such an effort is worthwhile so that the historical ocean temperature archives, which have cost the global community millions of dollars to obtain, are made more immediately useful for climate and ocean sciences. An archive of upper ocean temperature profiles from the Indian Ocean is near completion and extensions into the Pacific Ocean have begun.

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Paul J. Durack and Susan E. Wijffels

Abstract

Using over 1.6 million profiles of salinity, potential temperature, and neutral density from historical archives and the international Argo Program, this study develops the three-dimensional field of multidecadal linear change for ocean-state properties. The period of analysis extends from 1950 to 2008, taking care to minimize the aliasing associated with the seasonal and major global El Niño–Southern Oscillation modes. Large, robust, and spatially coherent multidecadal linear trends in salinity to 2000-dbar depth are found. Salinity increases at the sea surface are found in evaporation-dominated regions and freshening in precipitation-dominated regions, with the spatial pattern of change strongly resembling that of the mean salinity field, consistent with an amplification of the global hydrological cycle. Subsurface salinity changes on pressure surfaces are attributable to both isopycnal heave and real water-mass modification of the temperature–salinity relationship. Subduction and circulation by the ocean’s mean flow of surface salinity and temperature anomalies appear to account for most regional subsurface salinity changes on isopycnals. Broad-scale surface warming and the associated poleward migration of isopycnal outcrops drive a clear and repeating pattern of subsurface isopycnal salinity change in each independent ocean basin. Qualitatively, the observed global multidecadal salinity changes are thus consonant with both broad-scale surface warming and the amplification of the global hydrological cycle.

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Jaclyn N. Brown, J. Stuart Godfrey, and Susan E. Wijffels

Abstract

In a numerical model of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, the ∼20-day period tropical instability waves, excited in the eastern half of the domain, are found to damp the strong zonal mean currents. The waves generate large, nonlinear, advection terms in the momentum balance, change the vorticity balance, and thus modulate the low-frequency state. The authors explore whether the effect of tropical instability waves on the background flow can instead be adequately parameterized by a constant-coefficient Laplacian friction scheme. On annual mean, a Laplacian friction coefficient that varies in space is required, for the coefficient is twice as large along the equator and a few degrees more to the north than elsewhere. In addition, wave activity varies in time. During active phases, such as the second half of the year and during La Niñas, the activity increases, which would require the Laplacian coefficient of friction to be at least twice as strong as during the inactive phases. Thus, a more sophisticated damping parameterization than simple Laplacian friction is required in ocean models that do not explicitly resolve tropical instability waves.

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Susan E. Wijffels, Gary Meyers, and J. Stuart Godfrey

Abstract

Twenty years of monthly or more frequent repeat expendable bathythermograph data are used to estimate the mean geostrophic velocity and transport relative to 750 m of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) and its partitioning through the major outflow straits into the Indian Ocean. Ekman transports are estimated from satellite and atmospheric reanalysis wind climatologies. A subsurface maximum near 100 m characterizes the geostrophic ITF, but Ekman flows drive a warm near-surface component as well. A subsurface intensified fresh Makassar Jet feeds the Lombok Strait Throughflow (∼2 Sv; 1Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) and an eastward flow along the Nusa Tenggara island chain [the Nusa Tenggara Current (6 Sv)]. This flow feeds a relatively cold 3.0-Sv flow through the Ombai Strait and Savu Sea. About 4–5 Sv pass through Timor Passage, fed by both the Nusa Tenggara Current and likely warmer and saltier flow from the eastern Banda Sea. The Ombai and Timor Throughflow feature distinctly different shear profiles; Ombai has deep-reaching shear with a subsurface velocity maximum near 150 m and so is cold (∼15.5°–17.1°C), while Timor Passage has a surface intensified flow and is warm (∼21.6°–23°C). At the western end of Timor Passage the nascent South Equatorial Current is augmented by recirculation from a strong eastward shallow flow south of the passage. South of the western tip of Java are two mean eastward flows—the very shallow, warm, and fresh South Java Current and a cold salty South Java Undercurrent. These, along with the inflow of the Eastern Gyral Current, recirculate to augment the South Equatorial Current, and greatly increase its salinity compared to that at the outflow passages. The best estimate of the 20-yr-average geostrophic plus Ekman transport is 8.9 ± 1.7 Sv with a transport-weighted temperature of 21.2°C and transport-weighted salinity of 34.73 near 110°E. The warm temperatures of the flow can be reconciled with the much cooler estimates based on mooring data in Makassar Strait by accounting for an unmeasured barotropic and deep component, and local surface heat fluxes that warm the ITF by 2°–4°C during its passage through the region.

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J. Mauro Vargas-Hernández, Susan E. Wijffels, Gary Meyers, André Belo do Couto, and Neil J. Holbrook

Abstract

Studies of decadal-to-multidecadal ocean subsurface temperature variability are fundamental to improving the understanding of low-frequency climate signals. The present study uses the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA) version 2.2.4 product for the period 1950–2007 to identify decadal modes of variability that characterize the upper Indo-Pacific Ocean temperature structure (5–466-m depth). An empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis of the 10-yr low-pass filtered temperature field applied across four depths shows that the dominant mode is characterized by a long-term temperature trend, with warming at the surface and cooling at the thermocline depth connecting the tropical western Pacific with the southern Indian Ocean via the Indonesian Seas. EOF analysis of the detrended 10-yr filtered temperature data and correlation analyses of the EOF time series with established large-scale climate indices identified the interdecadal Pacific oscillation as EOF1, the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation as EOF2, and the decadal component of El Niño Modoki as EOF3 (respectively, modes 2, 3, and 4 of the nondetrended data). EOF2 identifies the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation when the analysis is applied to sea surface temperature anomalies only, suggesting that the surface is forced dominantly by fluxes associated with global-scale weather patterns, while the subsurface is dominantly forced by internal dynamics of the Pacific Ocean. This paper demonstrates that the decadal-to-interdecadal temperature variability in SODA has a pronounced vertical extension through the upper ocean. The upper thermocline accounts for most of the variance in the analysis. These results reinforce the importance of examining the subsurface ocean in climate dynamics studies that seek to understand the ocean’s role.

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Gregory C. Johnson, Sabine Mecking, Bernadette M. Sloyan, and Susan E. Wijffels

Abstract

Decadal changes of abyssal temperature in the Pacific Ocean are analyzed using high-quality, full-depth hydrographic sections, each occupied at least twice between 1984 and 2006. The deep warming found over this time period agrees with previous analyses. The analysis presented here suggests it may have occurred after 1991, at least in the North Pacific. Mean temperature changes for the three zonal and three meridional hydrographic sections analyzed here exhibit abyssal warming often significantly different from zero at 95% confidence limits for this time period. Warming rates are generally larger to the south, and smaller to the north. This pattern is consistent with changes being attenuated with distance from the source of bottom water for the Pacific Ocean, which enters the main deep basins of this ocean southeast of New Zealand. Rough estimates of the change in ocean heat content suggest that the abyssal warming may amount to a significant fraction of upper World Ocean heat gain over the past few decades.

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Paul M. Barker, Jeff R. Dunn, Catia M. Domingues, and Susan E. Wijffels

Abstract

In recent years, autonomous profiling floats have become the prime component of the in situ ocean observing system through the implementation of the Argo program. These data are now the dominant input to estimates of the evolution of the global ocean heat content and associated thermosteric sea level rise. The Autonomous Profiling Explorer (APEX) is the dominant type of Argo float (~62%), and a large portion of these floats report pressure measurements that are uncorrected for sensor drift, the size and source of which are described herein. The remaining Argo float types are designed to automatically self-correct for any pressure drift. Only about 57% of the APEX float profiles (or ~38% Argo profiles) can be corrected, but this typically has not been done by the data centers that distribute the data (as of January 2009). A pressure correction method for APEX floats is described and applied to the Argo dataset. A comparison between estimates using the corrected Argo dataset and the publically available uncorrected dataset (as of January 2009) reveals that the pressure corrections remove significant regional errors from ocean temperature, salinity, and thermosteric sea level fields. In the global mean, 43% of uncorrectable APEX float profiles (or ~28% Argo profiles) appear to largely offset the effect of the correctable APEX float profiles with positive pressure drifts. While about half of the uncorrectable APEX profiles can, in principle, be recovered in the near future (after inclusion of technical information that allows for corrections), the other half have negative pressure drifts truncated to zero (resulting from firmware limitations), which do not allow for corrections. Therefore, any Argo pressure profile that cannot be corrected for biases should be excluded from global change research. This study underscores the ongoing need for careful analyses to detect and remove subtle but systematic errors in ocean observations.

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Bernadette M. Sloyan, Susan E. Wijffels, Bronte Tilbrook, Katsuro Katsumata, Akihiko Murata, and Alison M. Macdonald

Abstract

Repeated occupations of two hydrographic sections in the southwest Pacific basin from the 1990s to 2000s track property changes of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). The largest property changes—warming, freshening, increase in total carbon, and decrease in oxygen—are found near the basin’s deep western boundary between 50° and 20°S. The magnitude of the property changes decreases with increasing distance from the western boundary. At the deep western boundary, analysis of the relative importance of AABW (γ n > 28.1 kg m−3) freshening, heating, or isopycnal heave suggests that the deep ocean stratification change is the result of both warming and freshening processes. The consistent deep ocean changes near the western boundary of the southwest Pacific basin dispel the notion that the deep ocean is quiescent. High-latitude climate variability is being directly transmitted into the deep southwest Pacific basin and the global deep ocean through dynamic deep western boundary currents.

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Susan E. Wijffels, Raymond W. Schmitt, Harry L. Bryden, and Anders Stigebrandt

Abstract

The global distribution of freshwater transport in the ocean is presented, based on an integration point at Bering Strait, which connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans via the Artic Ocean. Through Bering Strait, 0.8 × 106 m3 s−1 of relatively fresh, 32.5 psu, water flows from the Pacific into the Arctic Ocean. Baumgrtner and Reichel's tabulation of the act gain of freshwater by the ocean in 5&deg latitude intervals is then integrated from the reference location at Bering Strait to yield the meridional freshwater transport in each ocean. Freshwater transport in the Pacific is directed northward at nearly all latitudes. In the Atlantic, the freshwater transport is directed southward at all latitudes, with a small southward freshwater transport out of the Atlantic across 35°S. Salt transport, which must be considered jointly with the freshwater transport, is northward throughout the Pacific and southward throughout the Atlantic (in the same direction as the freshwater flux) and is equal to the salt transport through the Bering Strait. The circulation around Australasia associated with the poorly known Pacific-Indian throughflow modifies the above scenario only in the South Pacific and Indian oceans. A moderate choice for the throughflow indicates that it dominates the absolute meridional fluxes of freshwater and salt in these oceans. The global freshwater scheme presented here differs markedly from earlier interpretations and suggests the need for a careful assessment of the treatment of ocean freshwater and salt transports in inverse, numerical, and climate models.

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Susan E. Wijffels, Josh Willis, Catia M. Domingues, Paul Barker, Neil J. White, Ann Gronell, Ken Ridgway, and John A. Church

Abstract

A time-varying warm bias in the global XBT data archive is demonstrated to be largely due to changes in the fall rate of XBT probes likely associated with small manufacturing changes at the factory. Deep-reaching XBTs have a different fall rate history than shallow XBTs. Fall rates were fastest in the early 1970s, reached a minimum between 1975 and 1985, reached another maximum in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and have been declining since. Field XBT/CTD intercomparisons and a pseudoprofile technique based on satellite altimetry largely confirm this time history. A global correction is presented and applied to estimates of the thermosteric component of sea level rise. The XBT fall rate minimum from 1975 to 1985 appears as a 10-yr “warm period” in the global ocean in thermosteric sea level and heat content estimates using uncorrected data. Upon correction, the thermosteric sea level curve has reduced decadal variability and a larger, steadier long-term trend.

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