Bridging a possible gap of GRACE observations in the Arctic Ocean using existing GRACE data and in situ bottom pressure sensors

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Cecilia Peralta Ferriz, University of Washington, Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Lab.,, Seattle, WA, United States and James Morison, Polar Science Ctr, Seattle, WA, United States
Since 2003, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite system has provided the means of investigating month-to-month to inter-annual variability of, among many other things, Arctic Ocean circulation over the entire Arctic Basin. Such a comprehensive picture could not have been achieved with the limited in situ pressure observations available. Results from the first 10 years of ocean bottom pressure measurements from GRACE in the Arctic Ocean reveal distinct patterns of ocean variability that are strongly associated with changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation (Peralta-Ferriz et al., 2014): the leading mode of variability being a wintertime basin-coherent mass change driven by winds in the Nordic Seas; the second mode of variability corresponding to a mass signal coherent along the Siberian shelves, and driven by the Arctic Oscillation; and the third mode being a see-saw between western and eastern Arctic shelves, also driven by the large-scale wind patterns.

In order to understand Arctic Ocean changes, it is fundamental to continue to track ocean bottom pressure. Our concern is what to do if the present GRACE system, which is already well beyond its design lifetime, should fail before its follow-on is launched, currently estimated to be in 2017. In this work, we regress time series of pressure from the existing and potential Arctic Ocean bottom pressure recorder locations against the fundamental modes of bottom pressure variation. Our aim is to determine the optimum combination of in situ measurements to represent the broader scale variability now observed by GRACE. With this understanding, we can be better prepared to use in situ observations to at least partially cover a possible gap in GRACE coverage.


Peralta-Ferriz, Cecilia, James H. Morison, John M. Wallace, Jennifer A. Bonin, Jinlun Zhang, 2014: Arctic Ocean Circulation Patterns Revealed by GRACE. J. Climate27, 1445–1468. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00013.1