Assimilation of Satellite Sea Surface Salinity Fields: Validating Ocean Analyses and Identifying Errors in Surface Buoyancy Fluxes

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Avichal Mehra1, Sudhir Nadiga1, Eric J Bayler2 and David Behringer1, (1)Environmental Modeling Center, College Park, MD, United States, (2)National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, Silver Spring, MD, United States
Recently available satellite sea-surface salinity (SSS) fields provide an important new global data stream for assimilation into ocean forecast systems. In this study, we present results from assimilating satellite SSS fields from NASA’s Aquarius mission into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) operational Modular Ocean Model version 4 (MOM4), the oceanic component of NOAA’s operational seasonal-interannual Climate Forecast System (CFS). Experiments on the sensitivity of the ocean’s overall state to different relaxation time periods were run to evaluate the importance of assimilating high-frequency (daily to mesoscale) and low-frequency (seasonal) SSS variability. Aquarius SSS data (Aquarius Data Processing System (ADPS) version 3.0), mapped daily fields at 1-degree spatial resolution, were used. Four model simulations were started from the same initial ocean condition and forced with NOAA’s daily Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) fluxes, using a relaxation technique to assimilate daily satellite sea surface temperature (SST) fields and selected SSS fields, where, except as noted, a 30-day relaxation period is used. The simulations are: (1) WOAMC, the reference case and similar to the operational setup, assimilating monthly climatological SSS from the 2009 NOAA World Ocean Atlas; (2) AQ_D, assimilating daily Aquarius SSS; (3) AQ_M, assimilating monthly Aquarius SSS; and (4) AQ_D10, assimilating daily Aquarius SSS, but using a 10-day relaxation period. The analysis focuses on the tropical Pacific Ocean, where the salinity dynamics are intense and dominated by El Niño interannual variability in the cold tongue region and by high-frequency precipitation events in the western Pacific warm pool region. To assess the robustness of results and conclusions, we also examine the results for the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Preliminary validation studies are conducted using observations, such as satellite sea-surface height (SSH) fields and in situ Argo buoy vertical profiles of temperature and salinity, to demonstrate that SSS data assimilation improves ocean state representation of the following variables: ocean heat content (0-300m), dynamic height (0-1000m), mixed-layer depth, sea surface heigh, and surface buoyancy fluxes.