Climate Program Office News

ATOMIC Field Campaign Observations Used to Improve Understanding of Small Scale Air-Sea Fluxes

  • 4 November 2022
ATOMIC Field Campaign Observations Used to Improve Understanding of Small Scale Air-Sea Fluxes

The NOAA Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign (ATOMIC) was an observation collection campaign in January and February 2020 which included the deployment of two autonomously piloted Wave Gliders and six surface current-following drifters in the northwestern tropical Atlantic. Small scale air-sea flux variability is difficult to capture in remote observations, so a new study, partially funded by the Climate Program Office’s Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) Program, uses ATOMIC observations to improve our understanding on this smaller scale. Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA’s Physical Sciences Laboratory, including CVP-funded scientists Elizabeth Thompson and Jim Thompson, analyzed ATOMIC data and found that gradients in sea surface temperature had the greatest influence on air-sea flux. The results, published in JGR Oceans, illustrate significant small scale variability in sea surface temperatures even in an area of open ocean away from larger scale circulating currents, emphasizing the importance of including fine scale gradients in larger ocean models. This study adds to the CVP-supported work using ATOMIC observations to achieve more accurate representation of key air-sea processes, reduce model errors, and improve predictions across various timescales. 

Read the article



About the Climate Program Office

The Climate Program Office (CPO) manages competitive research programs in which NOAA funds high-priority climate science, assessments, decision support research, outreach, education, and capacity-building activities designed to advance our understanding of Earth’s climate system, and to foster the application of this knowledge in risk management and adaptation efforts.  CPO-supported research is conducted in regions across the United States, at national and international scales, and globally.  Learn more...


«November 2022»


1315 East-West Highway Suite 100
Silver Spring, MD 20910


Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather.