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

PLENARY PAPERdoi:10.5270/OceanObs09.pp.40

Progress and Challenges in Monitoring Ocean Temperature and Heat Content

S. E. Wijffels(1), M. Palmer(2), N. Rayner(2), G. Goni(3), S. Garzoli(3), G. C. Johnson(4), J. Willis(5), B. Dushaw(6), D. Roemmich(7), J. Church(1), G. Meyers(1)

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The ocean observing system enables better understanding and prediction of weather, climate variability (seasonal through decadal) and climate trends, as well as information on the ocean state itself. These data and forecasts underpin many societal applications such as informing sustainable management of marine resources, farm management, disaster mitigation (oil spills, bush fire risk, drought, floods), planning and regulating long-lived infrastructure both on the coasts and inland (e.g. water supplies) and many more. Any future international mechanisms for mitigation of Greenhouse Gas emissions will require constant monitoring of the climate system response. Temperature is the single most important ocean climate variable. Due to its vast thermal inertia, low albedo, high emissivity and dominance of the planetary surface area, the oceans play a key role in the planetary radiation balance, and thus are a strong control of planetary climate on timescales from weeks through to millennia. Sea surface temperatures (SST) reflect and mediate energy exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. On short (weather) time scales, SST is a critical driver of atmospheric behaviour and an essential parameter for numerical weather prediction [2]. It is also being increasingly recognized that subsurface temperatures also control the growth potential of tropical storms, and thus more accurate predictions of extreme events such as hurricanes may require knowledge of upper ocean temperature field and not just SST.

1Centre for Australia Weather and Climate Research, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart, Australia
2Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 3PB, UK
3National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 4301 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami FL 33149 USA
4NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, 7600 Sand Point Way NE Seattle, Washington 98115-6349 USA
5Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, M/S 300-323, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, CA 91109 USA
6Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 1013 N.E. 40th S.t, Seattle, WA 98105 USA
7Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla CA 92093-0230 USA

Correspondence should be addressed to E-mail: Susan.Wijffels@csiro.au

This paper shall be cited as:

Wijffels, S. & Co-Authors (2010). "Progress and Challenges in Monitoring Ocean Temperature and Heat Content" in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 1), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.pp.40

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