Impact of Sea Surface Salinity on Coupled Dynamics for the Tropical Indo Pacific

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Antonio J Busalacchi and Eric C Hackert, University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States
In this presentation we assess the impact of in situ and satellite sea surface salinity (SSS) observations on seasonal to interannual variability of tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean dynamics as well as on dynamical ENSO forecasts using a Hybrid Coupled Model (HCM) for 1993-2007 (cf., Hackert et al., 2011) and August 2011 until February 2014 (cf., Hackert et al., 2014). The HCM is composed of a primitive equation ocean model coupled with a SVD-based statistical atmospheric model for the tropical Indo-Pacific region. An Ensemble Reduced Order Kalman Filter (EROKF) is used to assimilate observations to constrain dynamics and thermodynamics for initialization of the HCM.

Including SSS generally improves NINO3 sea surface temperature anomaly validation. Assimilating SSS gives significant improvement versus just subsurface temperature for all forecast lead times after 5 months. We find that the positive impact of SSS assimilation is brought about by surface freshening in the western Pacific warm pool that leads to increased barrier layer thickness (BLT) and shallower mixed layer depths. Thus, in the west the net effect of assimilating SSS is to increase stability and reduce mixing, which concentrates the wind impact of ENSO coupling. Specifically, the main benefit of SSS assimilation for 1993-2007 comes from improvement to the Spring Predictability Barrier (SPB) period. In the east, the impact of Aquarius satellite SSS is to induce more cooling in the NINO3 region as a result of being relatively more salty than in situ SSS in the eastern Pacific leading to increased mixing and entrainment. This, in turn, sets up an enhanced west to east SST gradient and intensified Bjerknes coupling. For the 2011-2014 period, consensus coupled model forecasts compiled by the IRI tend to erroneously predict NINO3 warming; SSS assimilation corrects this defect. Finally, we plan to update our analysis and report on the dynamical impact of including Aquarius SSS for the most-recent, ongoing 2014 El Niño in the tropical Pacific and compare these results with other available coupled models that do not yet include satellite SSS.