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Volume 8, issue 5 | Copyright

Special issue: The MyOcean project: scientific advances for operational ocean...

Ocean Sci., 8, 845-857, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 09 Oct 2012

Research article | 09 Oct 2012

High resolution 3-D temperature and salinity fields derived from in situ and satellite observations

S. Guinehut1, A.-L. Dhomps2, G. Larnicol1, and P.-Y. Le Traon3 S. Guinehut et al.
  • 1CLS-Space Oceanography Division, Ramonville Saint-Agne, France
  • 2LEGOS, Toulouse, France
  • 3IFREMER, Plouzané, France

Abstract. This paper describes an observation-based approach that efficiently combines the main components of the global ocean observing system using statistical methods. Accurate but sparse in situ temperature and salinity profiles (mainly from Argo for the last 10 yr) are merged with the lower accuracy but high-resolution synthetic data derived from satellite altimeter and sea surface temperature observations to provide global 3-D temperature and salinity fields at high temporal and spatial resolution. The first step of the method consists in deriving synthetic temperature fields from altimeter and sea surface temperature observations, and salinity fields from altimeter observations, through multiple/simple linear regression methods. The second step of the method consists in combining the synthetic fields with in situ temperature and salinity profiles using an optimal interpolation method. Results show the revolutionary nature of the Argo observing system. Argo observations now allow a global description of the statistical relationships that exist between surface and subsurface fields needed for step 1 of the method, and can constrain the large-scale temperature and mainly salinity fields during step 2 of the method. Compared to the use of climatological estimates, results indicate that up to 50% of the variance of the temperature fields can be reconstructed from altimeter and sea surface temperature observations and a statistical method. For salinity, only about 20 to 30% of the signal can be reconstructed from altimeter observations, making the in situ observing system essential for salinity estimates. The in situ observations (step 2 of the method) further reduce the differences between the gridded products and the observations by up to 20% for the temperature field in the mixed layer, and the main contribution is for salinity and the near surface layer with an improvement up to 30%. Compared to estimates derived using in situ observations only, the merged fields provide a better reconstruction of the high resolution temperature and salinity fields. This also holds for the large-scale and low-frequency fields thanks to a better reduction of the aliasing due to the mesoscale variability. Contribution of the merged fields is then illustrated to describe qualitatively the temperature variability patterns for the period from 1993 to 2009.

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