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

COMMUNITY WHITE PAPER10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.85

Ocean Information Provided Through Ensemble Ocean Syntheses

D. Stammer(1), A. Köhl(1), T. Awaji(2), M. Balmaseda(3), D. Behringer(4), J. Carton(5), N. Ferry(6), A. Fischer(7), I. Fukumori(8), B. Gise(9), K. Haines(10), E. Harrison(11), P. Heimbach(12), M. Kamachi(13), C. Keppenne(14), T. Lee(8), S. Masina(15), D. Menemenlis(8), R. Ponte(16), E. Remy(6), M. Rienecker(14), A. Rosati(17), J. Schröter(18), D. Smith(19), A. Weaver(20), C. Wunsch(12), Y. Xue(21)

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Analyzing ocean variability, understanding its importance for the climate system, and quantifying its socio-economic impacts are among the primary motivations for obtaining ongoing global ocean observations. There are several possible approaches to address these tasks. One with much potential for future ocean information services and for climate predictions is called ocean synthesis, and is concerned with merging all available ocean observations with the dynamics embedded in an ocean circulation model to obtain estimates of the changing ocean that are more accurate than either system alone can provide. The field of ocean synthesis has matured over the last decade. Several global ocean syntheses exist today and can be used to investigate key scientific questions, such as changes in sea level, heat content, or transports. This CWP (Community White Paper) summarizes climate variability as "seen" by several ocean syntheses, describes similarities and differences in these solutions and uses results to highlight developments necessary over the next decade to improve ocean products and services. It appears that multi-model ensemble approaches can be useful to obtain better estimates of the ocean. To make full use of such a system, though, one needs detailed error information not only about data and models, but also about the estimated states. Results show that estimates tend to cluster around methodologies and therefore are not necessarily independent from each other. Results also reveal the impact of a historically under-sampled ocean on estimates of inter-decadal variability in the ocean. To improve future estimates, we need not only to sustain the existing observing system but to extend it to include full-depth Argo-type measurements, enhanced information about boundary currents and transports through key regions, and to keep all important satellite sensors flying indefinitely, including altimetry, gravimetry and ice thickness, microwave SST (Sea Surface Temperature) observations, wind stress measurements and ocean color. We also need to maintain ocean state estimation as an integral part of the ocean observing and information system.

1Institut für Meereskunde, KlimaCampus, University of Hamburg, Bundesstr. 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
2Faculty of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-01 - Japan
3ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts), Shinfield Park, Reading RG2 9AX United Kingdom
4Climate Prediction Center, NCEP/NOAA (/National Centers for Environmental Prediction /National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), 5200 Auth Road Camp Springs, Maryland 20746 USA
5Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, 3413 Computer & Spaces Sci. Bldg., Univ. MD., College Park, MD 20742 USA
6Mercator-Océan, 8-10 rue Hermès, 31520 Ramonville, Saint Agne, France
7Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1 rue Miollis - 75732 Paris Cedex 15 - France
8NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
9Dept of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
10e-Science Centre, ESSC (Environmental Systems Science Centre), Reading University, Harry Pitt Bld, 3 Earley Gate, Reading RG6 6AL USA
11NOAA/PMEL/OCRD (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory/Office Chief of Research and Development), 7600 Sand Point Way NE Seattle, WA 98125 USA
12Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02139 USA
13Meteorological Research Institute, Japan Meteorological Agency, 1-1 Nagamine, Tsukuba 305-0052, Japan
14Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, Code 610.1, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
15Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici and Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Viale A. Moro 44, 40127 Bologna, Italy
16Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc., 131 Hartwell Avenue, Lexington, MA 02421-3126 USA
17NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton University, PO Box 308, Princeton NJ 08540, U.S.A
18Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Postfach 12 01 61, 27515 Bremerhaven, Germany
19Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, United Kingdom
20Centre Européen de Recherche et de Formation Avancée en Calcul Scientifique, 42 avenue Gaspard Coriolis, 31057 Toulouse, France
21Climate Prediction Center, NCEP/NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Prediction /National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), 5200 Auth Road Camp Springs, Maryland 20746 USA

Correspondence should be addressed to E-mail: detlef.stammer@zmaw.de

This paper shall be cited as:

Stammer, D. & Co-Authors (2010). "Ocean Information Provided Through Ensemble Ocean Syntheses" 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.85

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