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Air-Sea Fluxes Derived from Global Surface and Field Campaign Observations: A Key Product for Improving Earth System and Climate Models

This proposed study will focus on the first program priority: Developing new observation-based (in situ, satellite) ocean synthesis datasets or products (physical and/or biogeochemical) for climate monitoring or modeling applications through applying existing methods or developing new, state-of-art, innovative methods and approaches (e.g. ocean state estimation, data assimilation, and quantification of observational uncertainty). Fluxes of mass, energy, and momentum between the oceans and the atmosphere have a profound impact on global weather and climate.The air-sea fluxes are of critical importance as they represent and control the energy and water cycle of the Earth system. It plays a key role the global hydrological cycle and precipitation, which are difficult for the current Earth system and climate models to accurately represent. However, our current ability of observing the air-sea fluxes globally is limited and remains as an unmet challenge. This proposed project will aim at 1) increasing the use of NOAA’s field campaign data (e.g., DYNAMO, YMC, ATOMIC and others) and emerging observations from sustained observing networks and systems, which will use a combined with non-NOAA observations that are available, and 2) enabling Earth system and climate model evaluation, validation, process-oriented diagnostics, and/or satellite calibration and validation. We will develop an observation-based air-sea fluxes data product, which will integrate observations from existing surface-based network (e.g., moorings, ships and saildrones), selected satellite measurements, and field campaigns from 1990-2020. This air-sea fluxes data product with an interactive user interface (leverage an existing software that will be adapted for the air- sea flux datasets in this project) will be particularly useful the broad modeling community, not only the modeling centers but also research community including students who are not familiar with field observations. We will engage and work in collaboration with Earth system and climate modeling community from NOAA, NCAR, and others. We plan to help developing model evaluation methods that are based on the observations of a wide range of temporal and spatial scales that can address both model physical process and model performance. The PI Chen and Co-I Fairall have worked with field campaign and ship and surface-based observation in producing air sea sensible and latent heat fluxes (e.g., Fairall et al. 2003, 2010;
Chen et al. 2016). The air-sea momentum flux will be derived using the observations and a high-
resolution coupled atmosphere-wave-ocean model to access and refine the flux in high wind
conditions (e.g., Fairall et al. 2009, Chen et al. 2013). The air-sea fluxes product produced in the
project will be made available through a user interface already developed by PI Chen and a
research scientist Dr. Brandon Kerns at UW (
This will ensure a rapid and easy access for a broader user community.

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