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Developing a framework for a field campaign in the cold tongue: Analysis of Pacific Upwelling and Mixing Physics from models and observations

Principal Investigator(s): Anna-Lena Deppenmeier, Deepak A. Cherian, Frank O. Bryan (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research - UCAR), LuAnne Thompson (University of Washington), William S. Kessler (NOAA/PMEL)

Year Initially Funded: 2022

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II

Award Number: NA22OAR4310595 NA22OAR4310596 | View Publications on Google Scholar


The intense oceanic heat uptake and air-sea coupling of the eastern equatorial Pacific cold tongue are enabled and maintained by efficient, turbulence-driven communication between the surface and the shallow thermocline. The cold tongue is dynamically special: the shoaling thermocline and resulting strong shear between the westward surface current and the shallow eastward equatorial undercurrent (EUC) result in flow that is persistently susceptible to shear instability below the mixed layer (marginally unstable flow). Shear turbulence is triggered every night, transporting heat from the ocean surface to the upper flanks of the EUC. This shear turbulence exposes the upper thermocline as a sink of heat (and a source of carbon). The former cools SST resulting in a large flux of heat from the atmosphere into the ocean. Our previous work with high resolution models demonstrates that the long-term mean ocean mixing and strong water mass transformation is concentrated in a narrow eastern equatorial zone between approximately 2 S and 2 N above the EUC, where upwelling brings the thermocline close to the surface. On shorter time scales, intense mixing exists outside this narrow band: flow in the cold cusps of simulated Tropical Instability Waves is marginally unstable and mixing can extend as far north as 5 N. These results demand deeper investigation of the near-equatorial marginally unstable flow, its spatial extent, temporal variability, and connection to the background near-equatorial circulation. In this response to the competition CVP: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II: 2943817 we propose research to advance our understanding of upwelling and mixing physics in the cold tongue. Our motivating questions are: What is the influence of variations in near equatorial mixing on the geography of air-sea fluxes and large scale features such as the tropical cells? Which macroscale phenomena modulate near-equatorial mixing and water mass transformation? What sampling strategies will capture the essential dynamics of these interactions in the context of both the PUMP field campaign and long-term TPOS backbone array? To address these questions we will: Elucidate and diagnose oceanic processes, and scales of those processes, that control mixing and upwelling in the eastern tropical Pacific thermocline; Characterize the spatial and temporal variability of shear, stratification, and mixing high-resolution models, large eddy simulations, and observations; Perform Observing System Simulation Experiments to test the proposed frameworks; Construct testable hypotheses and associated sampling strategies for a potential PUMP field experiment to constrain equatorial upwelling and mixing that will ultimately provide guidance for improvement of model parameterizations; Develop indirect and bulk indicators of diabatic mixing processes that can be inferred from routinely observed quantities. The outcome of this effort will further our scientific understanding of vertical exchange in the cold tongue and facilitate the interpretation of observations from a future PUMP field campaign and optimally utilize the backbone array. Ultimately, observations of these processes will serve to evaluate, constrain and guide the development of ocean models.

EquatorMix Remix: Assimilation of a Process Study Campaign for Estimating Pacific Upwelling and Mixing Physics

Principal Investigator(s): Matthew Mazloff, Bruce Cornuelle, Ariane Verdy (University of California - San Diego)

Year Initially Funded: 2022

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II

Award Number: NA22OAR4310597 | View Publications on Google Scholar


The Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) brings cold waters near the surface, where they are transformed through mixing and air-sea fluxes then exported to higher latitudes. This upwelling is not accomplished by EUC advection alone; much of the connectivity to the surface occurs via turbulent transport processes. Pacific Upwelling and Mixing Physics (PUMP) is a proposed effort to diagnose these vertical transport processes in the east-central equatorial Pacific. To inform PUMP we can look to the EquatorMix project, which took a highly relevant dataset on and around the Equator at 140°W while a tropical instability wave (TIW) front was passing through in October 2012. The EquatorMix campaign involved intensive observation of the upper ocean and of the atmosphere boundary layer with unmanned aerial vehicles. We propose high-resolution assimilation of these EquatorMix observations in an ocean model to yield understanding of upwelling physics, modeling needs, and observing design for PUMP. The data assimilation tests the hypothesis that we understand the important physics and can simulate them. The connectivity of the region makes it necessary to understand both the large-scale state as well as the local mixing conditions. We have developed a data-assimilating model to estimate the large-scale state (Verdy et al., 2017). The 1/3° resolution Tropical Pacific Ocean State Estimate (TPOSE.3) provides overlapping 4-month state estimates from 2010 to 2020 that balance mass, heat, and momentum, adjusting forcing and initial conditions so the model evolution best matches the observations. The estimates were cross-validated against the TAO mooring array and showed skill at timescales greater than 20 days, but higher-frequency variability poorly reproduced partly due to lack of observations. We have recently enhanced this state estimate resolution to 1/6° (TPOSE.6), sharpening the simulation of features such as TIWs. We propose to estimate the ocean state and atmospheric fluxes during EquatorMix with a 1/24° Tropical Pacific Ocean State Estimate (TPOSE.24). Importantly, TPOSE.24 will have fine vertical resolution, hypothetically improving the representation of shear layers and short vertical scales observed in EquatorMix. The large-scale context will be provided by nesting and initializing with TPOSE.6. Our goal is reproducing the mixing structures and fluxes of heat, salt, and momentum observed by EquatorMix, improving the model resolution and parameterizations as needed. Where TPOSE.24 drifts from data constraints, we will diagnose the sources of error due to unresolved or poorly modeled processes and act to correct these errors. Where TPOSE.24 is consistent with the observations, we will use it to address PUMP goals: we will diagnose the vertical fluxes and determine the time and space scales on which they vary. Beyond addressing these questions directly, we also view EquatorMix as a pilot observation program, demonstrating what components of a PUMP process study could look like and the usefulness of observations like EquatorMix for constraining the ocean state and quantifying processes.

Exploiting coupled ocean-atmosphere-wave model simulations to identify observational requirements for air-sea interaction studies across the tropical Pacific

Principal Investigator(s): Hyodae Seo, Susan Wijffels (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - WHOI)

Year Initially Funded: 2022

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II

Award Number: NA22OAR4310598 | View Publications on Google Scholar


The goal of the TPOS2020 project is to design an efficient and effective backbone observing system to better understand the processes in the tropical Pacific that are instrumental to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and provide useful observational constraints for predictions. The process studies being planned in the western and eastern equatorial Pacific are intended to shed light on physical processes and guide the design and development of the TPOS. The strong sea surface salinity and temperature fronts marking the eastern edge of the warm pool and equatorial cold tongue represent dramatic regime transitions from the ocean-atmosphere-wave coupling perspective, where short space/time scale changes in the balance between the oceanic and atmospheric boundary layers present significant observational and modeling challenges. As recognized by the TPOS2020, the current tropical Pacific observing system is insufficient to characterize the transient and fine-scale nature of the ocean-atmosphere-wave interactions. This hampers our ability to understand the impacts on local and non-local large-scale drivers, such as Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and ENSO. Most simulation and operational models exhibit difficulty simulating these processes due to inadequate spatial resolution and physical parameterizations. The biases in observations and models, in turn, impede developing and testing robust coupled data assimilation schemes for numerical weather prediction and extended-range prediction systems on subseasonal-to-seasonal and seasonal time-scales. We propose a pre-field modeling study to improve our process understanding and representation of air-sea flux and associated turbulent exchanges and dissipation in the oceanic and atmospheric boundary layers across the multiple TPOS regimes and to determine their dependence on varying ocean eddy and fronts, diurnal cycle, barrier layer, and surface wave conditions. A crucial element is to exploit extensive high-resolution, ocean-atmosphere-wave coupled model simulations, validated with existing in situ and satellite observations in the TPOS, to determine the simulation sensitivity to assumptions in the parameterized air-sea interaction and choices of model physics and resolution. Our combined model simulations and data analyses aim to provide specific and helpful information to the design of the process study and the TPOS observing system while also contributing to refinements of existing air-sea flux and turbulent mixing schemes to improve simulation and prediction models. Better resolved and represented air-sea interaction in the model will then be used to quantify the impacts on simulation skills of large-scale climate drivers such as MJO and ENSO. The project directly contributes to the most relevant priority areas of TPOS Process Studies and TPOS2020, and the NOAA's broad mission of improved environmental prediction by enhancing the predictability of the evolution of the Pacific climate system on seasonal to interannual time-scales. First, the project will examine the roles of surface waves, stratification and mixing, and eddies and fronts, the primary observational foci of the TPOS process studies. The refined model and improved process understanding will guide the design of a distributed array of in situ observations to improve space-time sampling. Secondly, it is of primary interest to TPOS to determine whether and how the improved representation of air-sea interaction improves the simulations of the critical large-scale variability such as MJO and ENSO. The enhanced mechanistic understanding of the upscaling effect will aid the improved extended-range and seasonal to multi-year predictions.

Optimizing coupled boundary layer process studies in the tropical Pacific using high resolution models and in situ observations

Principal Investigator(s): Aneesh Subramanian, Kris Karnauskas (University of Colorado - Boulder), Charlotte DeMott (Colorado State University), Janet Sprintall (University of Californina - San Diego)

Year Initially Funded: 2022

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II

Award Number: NA22OAR4310599 NA22OAR4310600 NA22OAR4310601 | View Publications on Google Scholar


We propose to identify and study the physical mechanisms that play a key role in the evolution of the coupled boundary layer and air-sea interaction in the tropical west Pacific region (eastern edge of the warm pool [WPEE]). We will identify optimal strategies to observe these processes by isolating the coupled and uncoupled processes using short-term high resolution coupled and uncoupled regional model experiments and observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs). Current forecasts of the MJO and ENSO experience a systematic error (climate drift) that results in sustained biases of the model tropical western Pacific climatology. Salt-stratified barrier layers are persistent in the warm-fresh pool of the western Pacific. Correct modeling of the presence, location, and thickness of the barrier layer in the WPEE is critical for getting coupled air-sea processes right on MJO and ENSO time scales. This is because barrier layers can mediate the intensity of SST-wind-precipitation coupling in the region by inhibiting entrainment of cooler water from below and trapping solar radiation and wind momentum into the thin surface layer. This changing background state redefines the anomalous state, which is the target for subseasonal and interannual forecasts. The time scale over which this error develops depends on the model framework and the physical parameterizations. We propose to identify key processes and structures/characteristics that need increased observations (and at what temporal, horizontal, and vertical scales) to help improve our simulation of the coupled boundary layer in the region. Some of the processes we will focus on are: ● Barrier layer formation mechanisms (tilting, advection, stretching, buoyancy production vs shear-driven mixing) and their time/space evolution ● Understanding momentum, heat, and salinity budgets in the WPEE ● Coupled air-sea fluxes (including convection) east/west of SST front at the WPEE. We will first survey existing observations and reanalyses to compute statistical analyses of the different time periods and air-sea interaction regimes (e.g. wind and precipitation conditions, subsurface oceanic stratification, etc), to identify the optimal conditions under which to observe the processes of interest. We will then perform analysis of the CMIP6 models and observation sensitivity experiments using the ECMWF Forecast System to study these regimes of interest in the WPEE region and focus on the processes of interest. We will then configure and run a high resolution (~10 km) and very high resolution (~1 km) nested coupled model in the Tropical Pacific basin to sample (OSSE) the region just as an observationally-based process field campaign would with virtual observational assets. The proposed activity will help to address fundamental questions at the heart of the CVP call. Where do we need to know the ocean vertical structure versus being able to rely on surface conditions measured by satellites? Where do we need the highest density of Argo floats and gliders (that provide stratification) to detect barrier layers? We will work closely with the rest of the NOAA CVP and TPOS process study teams to utilize the tools we develop and optimize the design of the process study for success.

Uncrewed Surface Vehicles as a Research Platform for Tropical Pacific Observing Platform (TPOS) Field Campaigns

Principal Investigator(s): Yolande Serra, Samantha Willis (University of Washington)

Year Initially Funded: 2022

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II

Award Number: NA22OAR4310602 | View Publications on Google Scholar


As part of the plan to address uncertainties in processes regulating sea surface temperatures (SSTs) that lead to biases in the eastern tropical Pacific and reduced skill in El Niño / Southern Oscillation (ENSO) predictions, the Tropical Pacific Observing System First Report recommends implementation of two air-sea interaction process studies: The Pacific Upwelling and Mixing Physics (PUMP) and the Eastern Edge of the Warm Pool (EEWP). The two regions are also identified by the Precipitation Prediction Grand Challenge Strategic Plan as “sources of precipitation predictability”. An aim of these process studies is to determine the minimum observations needed, and on what time and space scales they are needed, for monitoring ocean variability and related climate and weather modes, as well as for constraining models. However, process studies require intensive field observations to resolve ALL critical processes. New uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) offer great promise for intensive observations of phenomena like the EEWP that can migrate zonally tens of thousands of kilometers, and for upwelling studies that require potentially four surface-to-depth current profilers to be able to estimate the current divergence at a central point. The current proposed work uses recent USV observations and model output to test the capabilities of these platforms in PUMP and EEWP process studies. In particular, the objects of the current study are: 1) An analysis of historical USV data from past Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS) missions, including exploring approaches to calculate vertical velocity from the surface to 60-100 m in the PUMP domain; 2) The development of a “USV Sampler” that generates synthetic USV tracks within gridded reanalysis and forecast model fields based upon desired way points and the model’s winds and currents; 3) An evaluation of the synthetic USV data in models (existing high-resolution simulations) to assess the representation of the air-sea interface and upper ocean in the model products and to validate the USV Sampler; and, 4) Informed by the results of the assessments in 3), test a range of adaptive sampling strategies for capturing air-sea interaction processes within the PUMP and EEWP regions to aid future field studies. This project will contribute to a process level understanding of the PUMP and EEWP regions that is critical for advancing long standing biases in global forecasting and climate models and improving subseasonal-to-seasonal and ENSO prediction skill, a priority for the CVP program. This project also raises the technological readiness level of USVs for use in TPOS process studies by evaluating and demonstrating their capabilities within the equatorial Pacific environment. A higher technical readiness level is also an important step for being able to include USVs in the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

Observing the Air-Sea Transition Zone Using Combined Uncrewed Systems: Feasibility and Requirement

Principal Investigator(s): Chidong Zhang (NOAA/PMEL and Univeristy of Washington), Shuyi Chen (Unviversity of Washington), Patricia Quinn (NOAA/PMEL)

Year Initially Funded: 2022

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II

Award Number: GC22-206 | View Publications on Google Scholar


The air-sea transition zone (the upper ocean, air-sea interface, and atmospheric marine boundary layer) represents the physical space where air-sea interaction takes place. The perspective of the air-sea transition zone (ASTZ) advances the conventional concept of air-sea interaction at the air-sea interface to include both the oceanic and atmospheric boundary layers, which responds to and influences air-sea fluxes of energy, momentum, and mass. Studying the ASTZ acquires collocated and simultaneous observations of the ocean-atmosphere profiles of the entire ASTZ and seamless coupling of the atmosphere and ocean through the ASTZ in the Earth system models. Traditionally, observing the ASTZ has been done using ships and aircraft, which are expensive and logistically difficult. The recent rapid development of autonomous observing technologies opens the door to observe the ASTZ using uncrewed underwater, surface and aerial vehicles. This proposed research intends to investigate the feasibility and requirement of using uncrewed mobile platforms to observe the ASTZ. We propose to conduct our investigation through developing a virtual sampling framework using combined uncrewed systems (CUSs). In this framework, high-resolution coupled ocean-wave-atmosphere model simulations will be sampled by virtually deploying underwater gliders, saildrones, and aerial drones in coordination. Because the motions of the CUS components depend on wind, sea state, and current conditions, the design and navigation of their positions and tracks to be close to each other will have to be done based on past deployment experience of their motion characteristics. The virtually sampled data will be placed in the contest of the full simulations to assess the requirements to adequately represent the structure and variability of the ASTZ on various scales in real deployment of a CUS. The requirements include, but are not limited to, sampling locations, time, frequency, duration, vertical extents, horizontal coverage, etc. The virtual sampling framework will be conducted in the tropical Pacific, particularly over the eastern edge of the warm pool and the equatorial ITCZ/cold tongue region under various weather and climate conditions (e.g., phases and stages of the MJO and ENSO). This proposed study builds upon the PI team’s collective expertise in air-sea interaction using in situ and remote sensing observations and coupled ocean-atmosphere models, and experience in field observations. The most direct beneficiary of this study would be the future field campaign on Air-Sea Interaction at the Eastern Edge of the Pacific Warm Pool and Pacific Upwelling and Mixing Physics (PUMP). Results from this study will aid designs of these and other field campaigns that include observations of the ASTZ using CUSs as an objective to advance our understanding of component interactions of the Earth’s climate system and our ability of modeling and predicting climate variability to assist NOAA’s science and service mission.

Understanding Equatorial Pacific Climate Processes via Hierarchical Coupled Modeling

Principal Investigator(s): Andrew T. Wittenberg, Brandon Reichl, Fanrong Zeng (NOAA/GFDL), Feiyu Lu, Alistair Adcroft (Princeton/AOS/CIMES)

Year Initially Funded: 2022

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II

Award Number: GC22-207 | View Publications on Google Scholar


Coupled GCMs (CGCMs) exhibit systematic errors in the climate of the tropical Pacific, including an equatorial cold tongue (ECT) that is too strong and too far west, and an ENSO with incorrect behavior and teleconnections. These biases limit climate forecast skill and confidence in future climate projections. The modeling community has identified deficiencies in ECT air-sea interactions, upwelling, and mixing as key contributors to emergent CGCM biases, citing a lack of detailed observations as a major factor. To address this, TPOS 2020 aims to enhance observations of upper-ocean and air-sea processes in the tropical Pacific, especially in the ECT region as part of the PUMP process study. TPOS 2020 has specifically requested hierarchical modeling to assess simulation capabilities, attribute biases to underlying processes, and refine observing strategies. A coupled approach is needed to assess how biases and air-sea feedbacks interact in models. Thus we propose using a hierarchy of GFDL CGCMs and ocean models with varying resolutions, complexity, and observational constraints, to identify links among emergent biases and processes in the ECT, and refine observing strategies to improve model simulations, reanalyses, and outlooks. Our project builds upon recent field programs, ocean model studies, diagnostic frameworks, and research that illuminate how ECT biases interact with climate variations and climate change in models. We intend to leverage the latest modeling, reanalysis, and forecast systems developed by GFDL to support the NMME and CMIP6. By focusing on ECT processes, air-sea coupling, and model resolution and parameterizations, the proposed studies will lend critical insights into strategies for observing the processes relevant to the ECT, and for improving NOAA’s models, products, and science.

Coupling of the Tropical Air-sea Boundary Layers: Resolving Key Processes Using Observations and Multi-scale Coupled Modeling and Analysis

Principal Investigator(s): Carol Anne Clayson, James Edson (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute - WHOI), Eric Skyllingstad (Oregon State University)

Year Initially Funded: 2022

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: Observation and Modeling Studies in Support of Tropical Pacific Process Studies, Pre-Field-II

Award Number: NA22OAR4310623 | View Publications on Google Scholar


Our interests are in understanding the key features needed to more accurately represent both atmospheric and oceanic boundary layer processes, which are crucial for robust prediction of tropical atmosphere-ocean interactions. To do this we need to understand the structure of the boundary layers and develop a plan for measurement that fits both the scale of active processes and the needs of parameterization development. Our investigation would utilize existing tropical data sets and numerical modeling. The goal of this proposal is to use the sensitivity of coupled models to changes in boundary layer resolution and parameterizations as a tool to develop a field measurement strategy. We hypothesize that determining the correct resolution and parameterization for representing a process in a model provides a first estimate of resolution needs of measurements. With model results for guidance, we plan to provide metrics for various measurement platforms that will hone in on both the correct resolution and type of instrument array. Our experiments will also help in developing the overall observation strategy. Relevance and Broader Impacts of Proposed Research: The overall objective of the “Air-Sea Interaction at the eastern edge of the Warm Pool” is to better understand the impact of air-sea interaction and the upper ocean salinity stratification in maintaining the warm SSTs at the eastern edge of the west Pacific warm pool. Our interests are in understanding the complex processes that control the coupled atmosphere-ocean boundary layers in this region, using observations and a hierarchy of modeling approaches, directly in line with CVP Program priorities. The results of this research are aimed specifically at providing information on the atmospheric and oceanic observations needed and the time and space scales required to adequately capture the relevant processes of interest in maintaining the temperature and salinity stratification in the eastern edge of the west Pacific warm pool region. Further, with our focus on the impacts of coupling on convection and precipitation in this region, the research is directly related to improving understanding and representation of the structure of precipitation in this key region for global precipitation predictability, supporting NOAA’s Precipitation Prediction Grand Challenge. Our proposed work will include analysis from observations and uncoupled and coupled models of: (1) impacts of flux parameterizations on the upper ocean and the coupled system; (2) evaluation of the effects of including wave data into upper ocean processes, fluxes, and coupled feedbacks; (3) simulations using cloud-resolving large-eddy simulation (LES) models coupled to a mixed layer ocean model to evaluate the impact of vertical ocean model resolution on key processes; (4) simulations using coupled WRF-ROMS models to evaluate the impact of vertical atmospheric model resolution on key convective processes (e.g. cold pools); (5) usefulness of parameterizations of diurnal SST warming and changes in upper ocean salinity due to precipitation in reproducing the coupled system, and (6) recommendations of metrics for various measurement platforms that will hone in on both the correct resolution and type of instrument array needed to accurately capture processes relevant for air-sea interaction in the tropical Pacific.

Innovative analysis of deep and abyssal temperatures from bottom moored instruments

Principal Investigator(s): Renellys Perez (NOAA/AOML), Shenfu Dong (NOAA/AOML/PHOD)

Year Initially Funded: 2021

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: COM and CVP: Innovative Ocean Dataset/Product Analysis and Development for support of the NOAA Observing and Climate Modeling Communities

Award Number: GC21-403 | View Publications on Google Scholar


The ocean plays a major role in the global redistribution of heat within the climate system, however direct observations of temperature variability in the deep ocean (i.e., below 2000 dbar) are very sparse in the present Global Ocean Observing System. A recent study (Meinen et al., 2020) led by scientists at NOAA/AOML, which garnered interest in mainstream media including Smithsonian Magazine, The Guardian, and more, has demonstrated that an innovative use of an internal temperature sensor located within the sphere of a pressure-equipped inverted echo sounder (PIES) mooring can provide high temporal-resolution (hourly) near-bottom temperature measurements over extended time periods. Two long-term (10-15+ year) arrays of PIES moorings have been maintained in the North and South Atlantic by NOAA and international partners. These long-term records represent ideal data sets to both characterize deep temperature variations with the existing observing system and to evaluate the realism of deep temperature variability in the present generation of numerical ocean models. Furthermore, these data can be used to quantify deep ocean warming in a manner never before accomplished on a broad scale, and can be used to investigate the mechanisms involved in the observed deep/abyssal ocean temperature variability, as well as their implications. For this proposal we will primarily focus on bottom temperature observations collected from the 34.5°S and 26.5°N trans-basin arrays, however as time permits, additional existing records at other latitudes within the Atlantic sector will also be obtained and analyzed. This innovative analysis will aid in quantifying observational uncertainties in the existing long-term observations of deep ocean temperature, as well as help inform decisions about where future observations of temperature are needed within this poorly observed portion of the ocean. The deep temperature records will also serve as an example/reference data set for interpreting future deep temperature variations as new deep observational platforms are brought online (e.g., global deep Argo). As a second component of this proposed work, outputs from a series of different numerical model simulations, state estimates, and operational analyses (e.g., GOFS3.1, OFES, ECCO2, and GFDL simulations) will be examined. The highly-temporally- resolved temperature records from the PIES represent a novel benchmark against which to evaluate the skill of the deep and abyssal temperature evolution in these models. We will use this data to assess the fidelity of the model mean temperatures, their variability, and their trends. Most importantly, once validated, these models will provide the necessary tools to determine the mechanisms driving deep temperature variability at key locations in the Atlantic Ocean.

Developing PSSdb: a Pelagic Size Structure database to support biogeochemical model development

Principal Investigator(s): Jessica Luo (NOAA/GFDL), Rainer Kiko (Sorbonne Université)

Year Initially Funded: 2021

Program (s): Climate Variability & Predictability

Competition: COM and CVP: Innovative Ocean Dataset/Product Analysis and Development for support of the NOAA Observing and Climate Modeling Communities

Award Number: GC21-407a, NA21OAR4310254 | View Publications on Google Scholar


Marine plankton are essential components of ocean ecosystems, forming the bottom of the food chain and serving as controls on large-scale biogeographic patterns in ocean carbon, nutrients, and oxygen. Earth System Model (ESM) projections suggest that ocean warming and stratification will drive decreases in net primary production (NPP) and shifts in plankton community composition and size structure. These changes to the plankton community have subsequent implications for decreasing the strength of the biological pump, as well as declining fisheries productivity through trophic amplification mechanisms. However, a critical underlying factor driving these shifts -- the simulated size structure of plankton and particles -- is difficult to validate, as global datasets are lacking. Fortunately, new data streams from plankton imaging systems are capable of providing 3-dimensional, broad-spectrum views on plankton and particle size spectra, provided data are properly harmonized and cross-calibrated to a single standard. Following the structure of the World Ocean Database (WOD) and COPEPOD database, we propose to establish a methodological processing pipeline for the ingestion, calibration, and harmonization of imaging data on plankton and particles spanning five orders of magnitude (1 micron - 10 cm). The ultimate goal of our work is the development of the Pelagic Size Structure database, or PSSdb, as a resource for global gridded data. We will start off with data from five imaging systems that include in-situ samplers to tabletop imagers: Imaging FlowCytoBot (IFCB), FlowCam, Underwater Vision Profiler (UVP), ZooScan, and In-situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS). The resultant data will be structured in four levels, ranging from low (level 1) to high (level 3) taxonomic resolution, and will be made publicly available through NOAA websites. Our methodological framework and resultant database will be broadly extensible, and able to incorporate both historical data and future sampling efforts. As plankton imaging systems become increasingly utilized in national and international sampling programs, and are being developed for automated vehicles, drifters, and floats, we anticipate both a growing need for data consolidation and harmonization, as well as the opportunity for these datasets to inform ESM development. Ultimately, an improved understanding of the key ecological mechanisms driving marine ecosystem shifts, elucidated by models with strong empirical validation, will increase confidence in Earth System Model projections and associated links between the climate and fisheries.



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