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Two New Pre-Field Studies in Support of TPOS 2020


The Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS) is a multinational observing system designed to measure the subsurface and surface ocean and the atmosphere centered in the tropical Pacific. TPOS 2020 is an international effort to advance our understanding and prediction of tropical Pacific variability and its consequences for agriculture, marine ecosystems, human health, and disaster preparedness globally.

In support of TPOS 2020, CPO’s Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) program funded competitive grant awards focused on pre-field modeling studies in support of TPOS process studies. This month, two new studies have been published with CVP funding. 

(1) Storms drive outgassing of CO2 in the subpolar Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean is a key component of the Earth’s carbon budget. Carbon dioxide (CO2) outgassing, or the release of CO2 from natural storage zones in the subpolar Southern Ocean, influences the exchange of global CO2 between the air and sea. An international team of researchers, including NCAR’s Daniel Whitt and NOAA/PMEL’s Adrienne J. Sutton, used high-resolution atmosphere-ocean observations from autonomous vehicles to shine a light on the processes controlling the CO2 outgassing. Published in Nature Communications, their results support the hypothesis that storm-driven ocean physics is a significant participant in the Southern Ocean carbon cycle.

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(2) A simple coupled model of the wind, evaporation, and sea surface temperature feedback with a role for stability

Regional climate variability on time scales from months to decades, such as El Niño, relies heavily on feedbacks between the atmosphere and the ocean in which some initial change in the environment grows larger or smaller over time. The wind, evaporation, and sea surface temperature (WES) feedback is a prominent conceptual framework that attempts to explain the coupled climate behavior seen in observations and computer simulations. However, WES does not usually include the influence of the ocean temperature changes on the stability of the adjacent atmosphere. Kristopher Karnauskas (CIRES/CU Boulder) developed a version of the framework, published in the Journal of Climate, which captures the essential coupled dynamics of the WES feedback while also adding that stability effect. 

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