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Dean Roemmich and John Gilson

Abstract

High-resolution XBT transects in the North Pacific Ocean, at an average latitude of 22°N, are analyzed together with TOPEX/Poseidon altimetric data to determine the structure and transport characteristics of the mesoscale eddy field. Based on anomalies in dynamic height, 410 eddies are identified in 30 transects from 1991 to 1999, including eddies seen in multiple transects over a year or longer. Their wavelength is typically 500 km, with peak-to-trough temperature difference of 2.2°C in the center of the thermocline. The features slant westward with decreasing depth, by 0.8° of longitude on average from 400 m up to the sea surface. This tilt produces a depth-varying velocity/temperature correlation and hence a vertical meridional overturning circulation. In the mean, 3.9 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of thermocline waters are carried southward by the eddy field over the width of the basin, balanced mainly by northward flow in the surface layer. Corresponding northward heat transport is 0.086 ± 0.012 pW. The eddy field has considerable variability on seasonal to interannual timescales. For the 8-yr period studied here, eddy variability was the dominant mechanism for interannual change in the equatorward transport of thermocline waters, suggesting a potentially important forcing mechanism in the coupled air–sea climate system.

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Dean Roemmich, John Gilson, Josh Willis, Philip Sutton, and Ken Ridgway

Abstract

The role of oceanic advection in seasonal-to-interannual balances of mass and heat is studied using a 12-yr time series of quarterly eddy-resolving expendable bathythermograph (XBT) surveys around the perimeter of a region the authors call the Tasman Box in the southwestern Pacific. The region contains the South Pacific’s subtropical western boundary current system and associated strong mesoscale variability. Mean geostrophic transport in the warm upper ocean (temperature greater than 12°C) is about 3.8 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) southward into the box across the Brisbane, Australia–Fiji northern edge. Net outflows are 3.3 Sv eastward across the Auckland, New Zealand–Fiji edge, and 2.7 Sv southward across Sydney, Australia–Wellington, New Zealand. Mean Ekman convergence of 2.2 Sv closes the mass budget. Net water mass conversions in the upper ocean consist of inflow of waters averaging about 26°C and 35.4 psu balanced by outflow at about 18°C and 35.7 psu, and reflect the net evaporation and heat loss in the formation of South Pacific Subtropical Mode Water. The mean heat balance shows good agreement between ocean heat flux convergence (42.3 W m−2), heat loss to the atmosphere from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis (39.2 W m−2), and heat storage calculated from data in the box interior (1.3 W m−2). On interannual time scales, volume transport through the box ranges from about 1 to 9 Sv, with heat flux convergence ranging from about 20 to 60 W m−2. An interannual balance in the heat budget of the warm layer is achieved to within about 10 W m−2 (or 6 W m−2 for the upper 100 m alone). Maxima in the advective heat flux convergence occurred in 1993, 1997, and 1999–2000, and corresponded to maxima in air–sea heat loss. The evolution of surface-layer temperature in the region is the residual of nearly equal and opposing effects of ocean heat flux convergence and air–sea exchange. Hence, ocean circulation is a key element in the interannual heat budget of the air–sea climate system in the western boundary current region.

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Florent Gasparin, Dean Roemmich, John Gilson, and Bruce Cornuelle

Abstract

Using more than 10 years of Argo temperature and salinity profiles (2004–14), a new optimal interpolation (OI) of the upper ocean in the equatorial Pacific is presented. Following Roemmich and Gilson’s procedures, which were formulated for describing monthly large-scale anomalies, here every 5 days anomaly fields are constructed with improvements in the OI spatial covariance function and by including the time domain. The comparison of Argo maps with independent observations, from the TAO/TRITON array, and with satellite sea surface height (SSH), demonstrates that Argo is able to represent around 70%–80% of the variance at intraseasonal time scales (periods of 20–100 days) and more than 90% of the variance for the seasonal-to-longer-term variability. The RMS difference between Argo and TAO/TRITON temperatures is lower than 1°C and is around 1.5 cm when the Argo steric height is compared to SSH. This study also assesses the efficacy of different observing system components and combinations, such as SSH, TAO/TRITON, and Argo, for estimating subsurface temperature. Salinity investigations demonstrate its critical importance for density near the surface in the western Pacific. Objective error estimates from the OI are used to evaluate different sampling strategies, such as the recent deployment of 41 Argo floats along the Pacific equator. Argo’s high spatial resolution compared with that of the moored array makes it better suited for studying spatial patterns of variability and propagation on intraseasonal and longer periods, but it is less well suited for studying variability on periods shorter than 20 days at point locations. This work is a step toward better utilization of existing datasets, including Argo, and toward redesigning the Tropical Pacific Observing System.

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Dean Roemmich, John Gilson, Philip Sutton, and Nathalie Zilberman

Abstract

Multidecadal trends in ocean heat and freshwater content are well documented, but much less evidence exists of long-term changes in ocean circulation. Previously, a 12-yr increase, 1993 to 2004, in the circulation of the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre interior was described. That analysis was based on differences between early Argo and 1990s hydrographic data and changes in sea surface height. Here, it is shown that the trend of increasing circulation continues through 2014, with some differences within the Argo decade (2005 to 2014). Patterns that indicate or are consistent with increasing equatorward transport in the eastern portion of the South Pacific Gyre are seen in Argo temperature and steric height, Argo trajectory velocity, altimetric sea surface height, sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, and wind stress. Between 2005 and 2014 the geostrophic circulation across 35°S, from 160°W to South America, was enhanced by 5 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of added northward flow. This was countered by a southward transport anomaly between the date line and 160°W. Corresponding temperature trends span the full 2000-m depth range of Argo observations. The 22-yr trend, 1993 to 2014, in sea surface height at 35°S, 160°W is 8 cm decade−1. Trends in sea surface temperature over 34 yr, 1981 to 2014, show a similar spatial pattern to that of sea surface height, with an increase of 0.5°C decade−1 at 35°S, 160°W. These multidecadal trends support the interpretation of the 40°S maximum in global ocean heat gain as resulting from anomalous wind forcing and Ekman convergence.

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Josh K. Willis, John M. Lyman, Gregory C. Johnson, and John Gilson

Abstract

Two significant instrument biases have been identified in the in situ profile data used to estimate globally integrated upper-ocean heat content. A large cold bias was discovered in a small fraction of Argo floats along with a smaller but more prevalent warm bias in expendable bathythermograph (XBT) data. These biases appear to have caused the bulk of the upper-ocean cooling signal reported by Lyman et al. between 2003 and 2005. These systematic data errors are significantly larger than sampling errors in recent years and are the dominant sources of error in recent estimates of globally integrated upper-ocean heat content variability. The bias in the XBT data is found to be consistent with errors in the fall-rate equations, suggesting a physical explanation for that bias. With biased profiles discarded, no significant warming or cooling is observed in upper-ocean heat content between 2003 and 2006.

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Dean Roemmich, Jeffrey T. Sherman, Russ E. Davis, Kyle Grindley, Michael McClune, Charles J. Parker, David N. Black, Nathalie Zilberman, Sarah G. Purkey, Philip J. H. Sutton, and John Gilson

Abstract

Deployment of Deep Argo regional pilot arrays is underway as a step toward a global array of 1250 surface-to-bottom profiling floats embedded in the upper-ocean (2000 m) Argo Program. Of the 80 active Deep Argo floats as of July 2019, 55 are Deep Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer (SOLO) 6000-m instruments, and the rest are composed of three additional models profiling to either 4000 or 6000 m. Early success of the Deep SOLO is owed partly to its evolution from the Core Argo SOLO-II. Here, Deep SOLO design choices are described, including the spherical glass pressure housing, the hydraulics system, and the passive bottom detection system. Operation of Deep SOLO is flexible, with the mission parameters being adjustable from shore via Iridium communications. Long lifetime is a key element in sustaining a global array, and Deep SOLO combines a long battery life of over 200 cycles to 6000 m with robust operation and a low failure rate. The scientific value of Deep SOLO is illustrated, including examples of its ability (i) to observe large-scale spatial and temporal variability in deep ocean temperature and salinity, (ii) to sample newly formed water masses year-round and within a few meters of the sea floor, and (iii) to explore the poorly known abyssal velocity field and deep circulation of the World Ocean. Deep SOLO’s full-depth range and its potential for global coverage are critical attributes for complementing the Core Argo Program and achieving these objectives.

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Molly Baringer, Mariana B. Bif, Tim Boyer, Seth M. Bushinsky, Brendan R. Carter, Ivona Cetinić, Don P. Chambers, Lijing Cheng, Sanai Chiba, Minhan Dai, Catia M. Domingues, Shenfu Dong, Andrea J. Fassbender, Richard A. Feely, Eleanor Frajka-Williams, Bryan A. Franz, John Gilson, Gustavo Goni, Benjamin D. Hamlington, Zeng-Zhen Hu, Boyin Huang, Masayoshi Ishii, Svetlana Jevrejeva, William E. Johns, Gregory C. Johnson, Kenneth S. Johnson, John Kennedy, Marion Kersalé, Rachel E. Killick, Peter Landschützer, Matthias Lankhorst, Tong Lee, Eric Leuliette, Feili Li, Eric Lindstrom, Ricardo Locarnini, Susan Lozier, John M. Lyman, John J. Marra, Christopher S. Meinen, Mark A. Merrifield, Gary T. Mitchum, Ben Moat, Didier Monselesan, R. Steven Nerem, Renellys C. Perez, Sarah G. Purkey, Darren Rayner, James Reagan, Nicholas Rome, Alejandra Sanchez-Franks, Claudia Schmid, Joel P. Scott, Uwe Send, David A. Siegel, David A. Smeed, Sabrina Speich, Paul W. Stackhouse Jr., William Sweet, Yuichiro Takeshita, Philip R. Thompson, Joaquin A. Triñanes, Martin Visbeck, Denis L. Volkov, Rik Wanninkhof, Robert A. Weller, Toby K. Westberry, Matthew J. Widlansky, Susan E. Wijffels, Anne C. Wilber, Lisan Yu, Weidong Yu, and Huai-Min Zhang
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