Published in the
Proceedings of OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society

COMMUNITY WHITE PAPER10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.23

Measuring the Global Ocean Surface Circulation with Satellite and In Situ Observations

Kathleen Dohan(1), Fabrice Bonjean(2), Luca Centurioni(3), Meghan Cronin(4), Gary Lagerloef(1), Dong-Kyu Lee(5), Rick Lumpkin(6), Nikolai A. Maximenko(7), Pearn P Niiler(3), Hiroshi Uchida(8)

pdf Download this paper »

In the past two decades, the Global Drifter Program (GDP), satellite altimeter missions, precise gravity models and radiometer and scatterometer winds, have provided a detailed resolution of the global sea surface velocity (SSV) and its variability. Out of these has emerged a detailed, unprecedented, description of the surface circulation (calibrated to 15 m depth), including formerly unknown zonal features and an updated global mean dynamic topography. Using the GDP, along with long time series current meter moorings and numerous ship acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) sections for calibration and validation, we can now resolve the spatial and temporal variability of the global surface currents from satellite sea surface topography and vector wind measurements. This record extends from 1993 to present and provides key dynamical insights into the tropical dynamics of ENSO (El Niņo/Southern Oscillation) and extra-tropical variations on intra-seasonal to decadal time scales. Beyond the basic oceanographic and climate research applications, the data are useful to marine applications (shipping, fishing, ocean yachting, search and rescue, pollution monitoring, etc.) This paper describes the state of the observing system, data quality and principal scientific insights during the last decade. The synergy of the satellite and in situ components of this observing system has been essential for resolving the circulation on a global synoptic basis. The future observing system requires at a minimum the continuation of these key components. The OceanObs'99 GDP requirements (one measurement per month per 5x5 degrees) are reviewed for adequacy to define the mean circulation, seasonal to inter-annual variability, calibrate satellite SSV, resolve eddy kinetic energy, coastal processes, and deploying ancillary sensors for surface salinity and PCO2 (Partial Pressure of Carbon Dioxide).

1Earth & Space Research, 2101 Fourth Ave, Suite 1310, Seattle WA, 98212, USA
2SAT-OCEAN, 53, Boulevard de la Reine, 78000 Versailles, France
3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD (University of California, San Diego), 9500 Gilman Drive, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0225, USA
4NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory, Ocean Climate Research Division, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA, 98115, USA
5Department of Marine Sciences, Pusan National University, Busan, 609-735, Korea
6Physical Oceanography Division, NOAA/AOML (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory), 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149, USA
7International Pacific Research Center, SOEST (School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology), University of Hawaii, 1680 East West Road, POST Bldg. #401, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
8IORGC (Institute of Observational Research for Global Change), Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 2-15 NatsushimaCho, Yokosuka, Kanagawa 237-0061, Japan

Correspondence should be addressed to E-mail: kdohan@esr.org

This paper shall be cited as:

Dohan, K. & Co-Authors (2010). "Measuring the Global Ocean Surface Circulation with Satellite and In Situ Observations" in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.23

Rights to reproduction of individual articles are held by the authors. The source of the article (these proceedings) shall be cited.

 Contact: info .at. oceanobs09.net