Modern Estimates of Global Water Cycle Fluxes
Monday, 15 December 2014
The goal of the first phase of the NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study (NEWS) Water and Energy Cycle Climatology project was to develop "state of the global water cycle" and "state of the global energy cycle" assessments based on data from modern ground and space based observing systems and data integrating models. Here we describe results of the water cycle assessment, including mean annual and monthly fluxes over continents and ocean basins during the first decade of the millennium. To the extent possible, the water flux estimates are based on (1) satellite measurements and (2) data-integrating models. A careful accounting of uncertainty in each flux was applied within a routine that enforced multiple water and energy budget constraints simultaneously in a variational framework, in order to produce objectively-determined, optimized estimates. Simultaneous closure of the water and energy budgets caused the ocean evaporation and precipitation terms to increase by about 10% and 5% relative to the original estimates, mainly because the energy budget required turbulent heat fluxes to be substantially larger in order to balance net radiation. In the majority of cases, the observed annual, surface and atmospheric water budgets over the continents and oceans close with much less than 10% residual. Observed residuals and optimized uncertainty estimates are considerably larger for monthly surface and atmospheric water budget closure, often nearing or exceeding 20% in North America, Eurasia, Australia and neighboring islands, and the Arctic and South Atlantic Oceans. The residuals in South America and Africa tend to be smaller, possibly because cold land processes are a non-issue. Fluxes are poorly observed over the Arctic Ocean, certain seas, Antarctica, and the Australasian and Indonesian Islands, leading to reliance on atmospheric analysis estimates. Other details of the study and future directions will be discussed.