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Application of Satellite Altimetry to Tropical Climate Prediction

Dake Chen(1) , Alexey Kaplan(1) , and Mark Cane(1)

(1) Columbia University, PO Box 1000, Palisades, NY 10964, United States


Application of satellite remote sensing to climate study is still in its infancy, largely due to the limitation of data record being too short. Now that the combined TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason altimeter data set has become more than a decade long, we should be able to evaluate the impact of these data on a large range of time scales and in a systematic and quantitative manner. More importantly, we should explore the possibility of applying these high-quality, high-resolution observations to real-time ocean modeling and climate prediction.

Our focus has been on the tropics for two reasons: first, there are large interannual-to-decadal fluctuations in the tropical oceans which have strong influences on regional and global climate; and second, altimetry data are likely to have a major impact here because of the important role of sea level in tropical ocean dynamics and climate variability.

This paper reviews our efforts at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in applying altimeter observations to predicting tropical climate variations, especially ENSO. Here we examine the impact of sea level data assimilation, elucidate the theoretical basis and the practical procedures that lead to such impact, and discuss the current status of our forecast system and the potential for further improvement.



                 Last modified: 07.10.03