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  • Author or Editor: Annie P. S. Wong x
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Annie P. S. Wong
and
Gregory C. Johnson

Abstract

The structure, formation, and destruction of South Pacific Eastern Subtropical Mode Water (SPESTMW) are analyzed. Geographic extent and water properties are discussed by using high-quality CTD sections collected between 1991 and 1996. Defined as having a planetary potential vorticity magnitude of less than 3 × 10−10 m−1 s−1, SPESMTW has a volume of about 1.1 × 1015 m3, estimated from CTD data. The ventilation of this mode water is described by using data from a high-resolution XBT section in concert with 30-month time series from profiling CTD floats, some of the first Argo deployments. Published subduction rates allow a mode-water formation rate estimate of 8.7 × 106 m3 s−1. Combining this estimate with the volume yields a residence time of about 4 years. The density-compensating covarying patterns of late winter surface temperature and salinity in the ventilation region of SPESTMW are shown to contribute to the strength of the mode water. However, while the destabilizing salinity gradient in SPESTMW contributes to its formation, it may also hasten its destruction by leaving it susceptible to double-diffusive convective mixing. SPESTMW spreads northwestward from its ventilation region within the subtropical gyre, eventually joining the South Equatorial Current. It is speculated that the proximity of the SPESTMW ventilation region to the Tropics, where winds and sea surface temperatures vary significantly, coupled with a direct interior circulation pathway to the equator, may allow SPESTMW to effect modulation of ENSO dynamics.

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Annie P. S. Wong
and
Stephen C. Riser

Abstract

Multiyear under-ice temperature and salinity data collected by profiling floats are used to study the upper ocean near the Wilkes Land coast of Antarctica. The study region is in the seasonal sea ice zone near the southern terminus of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The profiling floats were equipped with an ice-avoidance algorithm and had a survival rate of 74% after 2.5 yr in the ocean. The data show that, in this part of Antarctica, the rate of sea ice decay exceeds the rate of sea ice growth. During the sea ice growth period, the water column is weakly stratified because of brine rejection and is only marginally stable. The average winter mixed layer temperature is about 0.12°C above the surface freezing point, providing evidence of entrainment of warmer water from the permanent pycnocline. The average mixed layer salinity increases by 0.127 from June to October. A one-dimensional model is used to quantify evolution of the winter mixed layer under a sea ice cover. The local winter entrainment rate is estimated to be 49 ± 11 m over 5 months, supplying a heat flux of 34 ± 8 W m−2 to the base of the mixed layer in winter. Model output gives a thermodynamic sea ice growth of 28 ± 15 cm over the same period. The winter ocean–atmosphere heat loss through leads and sea ice is estimated to be 14–25 W m−2 in this area, which is broadly in line with other winter observations from the East Antarctic region.

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Annie P. S. Wong
,
Gregory C. Johnson
, and
W. Brechner Owens

Abstract

Autonomous CTD profiling floats are free-moving floats that report vertical profiles of salinity, temperature, and pressure at regular time intervals. The Argo program plans to deploy 3000 such floats to observe the upper 2000 m of the global ocean. These floats give good measurements of temperature and pressure, but salinity measurements may experience significant sensor drifts with time. The moving nature of these floats means that it is too expensive to retrieve them regularly for physical calibrations. Thus a system has been set up to correct the drift in these profiling float salinity data by using historical hydrographic data. An objective mapping technique is used to estimate the background climatological salinity field on θ surfaces from nearby historical data. Temporal variations in water mass properties are accounted for in the objective estimate. The float salinity data are fitted to the background climatology in potential conductivity space by weighted least squares with a time-varying slope. The error associated with estimating the background climatology is carried through in the weighted least squares calculations. The result is a set of calibrated salinity data with error estimates. Because of the need to accumulate a time series for calculating a stable slope correction term, this system is a delayed-mode quality control system, with reliable calibrations available a few months after float data are obtained. However, contemporary ship-based measurements are essential in determining whether a measured trend is due to sensor drift or due to natural variability.

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Annie P. S. Wong
,
Nathaniel L. Bindoff
, and
John A. Church

Abstract

Comparisons of hydrographic conditions in the North and South Pacific Oceans in the 1960s and 1985–94 have been made along five World Ocean Circulation Experiment sections. Below the seasonal mixed layer, statistically significant temporal differences in salinity and temperature have been detected in the water masses that occur in the upper 2000 dbar of the water column. These water mass property differences have been used to estimate the freshwater and heat storage trends in the Pacific over the study period. Along 24°N, 10°N, and 17°S, where either North Pacific Intermediate Water or Antarctic Intermediate Water is present, the upper waters have increased in salinity, while the intermediate and deep waters have decreased in salinity. Although the depth-integrated salinity changes observed along these sections are small, the regional redistribution of freshwater associated with the water mass changes is significant and implies significant redistribution of surface freshwater fluxes over the Pacific. Heat loss has occurred along 47°N and 17°S, but significant warming has occurred along 24° and 10°N, giving the Pacific a net heat gain of 1.79 × 108 J m−2. The resulting steric sea level change for the area in the Pacific between 60°N and 31.5°S over the roughly 20-yr study period is estimated to be a rise of 0.85 mm yr−1, consistent with those in existing literature, but larger than that estimated from numerical models reported in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Second Assessment Report.

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Earle A. Wilson
,
Stephen C. Riser
,
Ethan C. Campbell
, and
Annie P. S. Wong

Abstract

In this study, under-ice ocean data from profiling floats, instrumented seals, and shipboard casts are used to assess wintertime upper-ocean stability and heat availability in the sea ice–covered Southern Ocean. This analysis reveals that the southern Weddell Sea, which features a weak upper-ocean stratification and relatively strong thermocline, is preconditioned for exceptionally high rates of winter ventilation. This preconditioning also facilitates a strong negative feedback to winter ice growth. Idealized experiments with a 1D ice–ocean model show that the entrainment of heat into the mixed layer of this region can maintain a near-constant ice thickness over much of winter. However, this quasi-equilibrium is attained when the pycnocline is thin and supports a large temperature gradient. We find that the surface stress imparted by a powerful storm may upset this balance and lead to substantial ice melt. This response can be greatly amplified when coincident with anomalous thermocline shoaling. In more strongly stratified regions, such as near the sea ice edge of the major gyres, winter ice growth is weakly limited by the entrainment of heat into the mixed layer. Thus, the thermodynamic coupling between winter sea ice growth and ocean ventilation has significant regional variability. This regionality will influence the response of the Southern Ocean ice–ocean system to future changes in ocean stratification and surface forcing.

Open access
Tim Boyer
,
Huai-Min Zhang
,
Kevin O’Brien
,
James Reagan
,
Stephen Diggs
,
Eric Freeman
,
Hernan Garcia
,
Emma Heslop
,
Patrick Hogan
,
Boyin Huang
,
Li-Qing Jiang
,
Alex Kozyr
,
Chunying Liu
,
Ricardo Locarnini
,
Alexey V. Mishonov
,
Christopher Paver
,
Zhankun Wang
,
Melissa Zweng
,
Simone Alin
,
Leticia Barbero
,
John A. Barth
,
Mathieu Belbeoch
,
Just Cebrian
,
Kenneth J. Connell
,
Rebecca Cowley
,
Dmitry Dukhovskoy
,
Nancy R. Galbraith
,
Gustavo Goni
,
Fred Katz
,
Martin Kramp
,
Arun Kumar
,
David M. Legler
,
Rick Lumpkin
,
Clive R. McMahon
,
Denis Pierrot
,
Albert J. Plueddemann
,
Emily A. Smith
,
Adrienne Sutton
,
Victor Turpin
,
Long Jiang
,
V. Suneel
,
Rik Wanninkhof
,
Robert A. Weller
, and
Annie P. S. Wong

Abstract

The years since 2000 have been a golden age in in situ ocean observing with the proliferation and organization of autonomous platforms such as surface drogued buoys and subsurface Argo profiling floats augmenting ship-based observations. Global time series of mean sea surface temperature and ocean heat content are routinely calculated based on data from these platforms, enhancing our understanding of the ocean’s role in Earth’s climate system. Individual measurements of meteorological, sea surface, and subsurface variables directly improve our understanding of the Earth system, weather forecasting, and climate projections. They also provide the data necessary for validating and calibrating satellite observations. Maintaining this ocean observing system has been a technological, logistical, and funding challenge. The global COVID-19 pandemic, which took hold in 2020, added strain to the maintenance of the observing system. A survey of the contributing components of the observing system illustrates the impacts of the pandemic from January 2020 through December 2021. The pandemic did not reduce the short-term geographic coverage (days to months) capabilities mainly due to the continuation of autonomous platform observations. In contrast, the pandemic caused critical loss to longer-term (years to decades) observations, greatly impairing the monitoring of such crucial variables as ocean carbon and the state of the deep ocean. So, while the observing system has held under the stress of the pandemic, work must be done to restore the interrupted replenishment of the autonomous components and plan for more resilient methods to support components of the system that rely on cruise-based measurements.

Open access