A framework to estimate water mass formation properties from space

Roberto Sabia, Telespazio-Vega for European Space Agency, Frascati, Italy, Aqeel Piracha, Barcelona Expert Centre, ICM-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain, Jessica Caughtry, European Space Agency, Frascati, Italy, Marlene Klockmann, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany and Diego Fernandez-Prieto, European Space Research Institute (ESRIN) - European Space Agency (ESA), Frascati, Italy
Satellite-based measurements of sea surface salinity (SSS) and sea surface temperature (SST) have been linked to generate satellite-derived surface T-S diagrams [1] and to analyze the distribution/dynamics of remotely-sensed SSS (and its related surface density) with respect to in-situ measurements. This framework has been then extended [2] by computing surface density flux and water masses (WM - water bodies with physical properties distinct from the surrounding water) formation rates and extents for two ocean basins over an annual timeframe.

More recently [3], these previous results have been expanded in several directions, ranging from the extension of the spatial/temporal framework to the inclusion of a wider pool of source datasets. Satellite uncertainties have furthermore been propagated to the final estimates of water masses formation rates and location, and several water masses have been characterized showing a remarkable consistency with literature estimates.

Ongoing efforts that will be discussed at the conference are, among others:

  1. Enlarge the scope of the error propagation exercise to assess the impact of errors in heat and freshwater fluxes measurements;
  2. Consolidate a machine-learning algorithm for the WM formation automatic peak detection;
  3. Inter-compare satellite-based estimates of WM formation with relevant model outputs and assess sources of discrepancy;
  4. Assess the inherent oceanographic processes that can be resolved at different spatio-temporal scales.

[1] Sabia R., et al. (2014), A first estimation of SMOS‐based ocean surface T‐S diagrams, J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 119, 7357–7371.

[2] Sabia R., et al., Variability and Uncertainties in Water Masses Formation Estimation from Space, Ocean Sciences 2016, New Orleans, LA, USA, February 2016.

[3] Piracha A., et al., Satellite-driven estimates of water mass formation and their spatio-temporal evolution, In press, Frontiers in Marine Science, 2019.