Sensors for physical fluxes at the sea surface: energy, heat, water, salt R. A. Weller1, E. F. Bradley2, J. B. Edson3, C. W. Fairall4, I. Brooks5, M. J. Yelland6, and R. W. Pascal6 1Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, USA 2CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) Land and Water, Canberra, Australia 3University of Connecticut, Connecticut, USA 4NOAA ESRL (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory), Boulder, Colorado, USA 5University of Leeds, Leeds, UK 6National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK
Abstract. The current status of meteorological sensors used aboard ships and buoys to
measure the air-sea fluxes of momentum, heat, and freshwater is reviewed.
Methods of flux measurement by the bulk aerodynamic, inertial dissipation
and eddy-correlation methods are considered; and areas are identified where
improvements are needed in measurement of the basic variables. In some
cases, what is required is the transition from emergent to operational
technology, in others new technologies are needed. Uncertainties in measured
winds caused by flow distortion over the ship are discussed; and the
possible role of computational fluid mechanics models to obtain corrections
is considered. Basic studies are also needed on the influence of waves and
rain on the fluxes. The issues involved in the specification of sea surface
temperature are described, and the relative merits of the available sensors
are discussed. The improved capability of buoy-mounted systems will depend
on the emergence of low-power instruments, and/or new means of increasing
the available power capacity. Other issues covered include the continuing
uncertainty about the performance of rain gauges and short-wave radiometers.
Also, the requirements for new instruments to extend the range of
observations to extreme wind conditions are outlined, and the latest
developments in the measurement of aerosol fluxes by eddy-correlation are
Citation: Weller, R. A., Bradley, E. F., Edson, J. B., Fairall, C. W., Brooks, I., Yelland, M. J., and Pascal, R. W.: Sensors for physical fluxes at the sea surface: energy, heat, water, salt, Ocean Sci., 4, 247-263, doi:10.5194/os-4-247-2008, 2008.