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How altimetry can complement in situ observations in the estimation of the upper ocean heat storage

Gustavo Jorge Goni(1) and Claudia Schmid(1)

(1) NOAA/AOML, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL33149, United States


The main objective of this study is to improve the estimates of the upper ocean heat storage, which is key to achieve a better understanding of the heat balance in the world oceans. These estimates are necessary to improve climate forecast capabilities of coupled general circulation models. The data we use cover the years 1992 through 2005. Temperature profiles, approximately 500,000, are obtained from XBTs and profiling floats. The altimeter data consist of the gridded AVISO sea height anomaly fields. The correlation between the sea height anomaly and the depth of the mixed layer and of selected isotherms is investigated in the upper 800m. The sea height anomaly fields are used to monitor the upper ocean heat storage within a two layer reduced gravity approximation where these correlations are good. We present here global maps of altimeter-derived upper ocean heat storage and the errors associated with these estimates obtained from the XBT and profiling float observations. The final goal of this work will be to fill with altimetry estimates the spatial gaps created where profiling float coverage is not adequate. Moreover, this work will also provide information on where more in-situ observations are needed because altimetry cannot be used as a proxy to estimate the mixed layer depth or the upper ocean heat storage.



                 Last modified: 07.10.03