Ocean Climate Observations and Analyses (2011-2012)

Robert A. Weller. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The goal of this observational project is to maintain long-term surface moorings, known
as Ocean Reference Stations, as part of the integrated ocean observing system. Ocean Reference
Stations collect long time series of observations of surface meteorology and upper ocean
variability in regions of key interest to climate studies. The resulting meteorological and
oceanographic observations provide a set of high quality air-sea fluxes of heat, freshwater and
momentum as well as upper ocean heat and salt content.
The scientific rationale for the collection
of these flux products is manifold:
1) to describe the upper ocean variability and the local
response to atmospheric forcing;
2) to motivate and guide improvement to atmospheric, oceanic,
and coupled models;
3) to calibrate and guide improvement to remote sensing products and
capabilities; and
4) to provide anchor points for the development of new, basin scale fields of the
air-sea fluxes. Model, satellite, and climatological fields of surface meteorology and air-sea
fluxes have large errors; high quality, in-situ time series are the essential data needed to improve
our understanding of atmosphere-ocean coupling and to create more accurate global fields.

Three Ocean Reference Stations are being maintained: A site at 20°S, 85°W under the
stratus cloud deck off northern Chile (Stratus), the Northwest Tropical Atlantic Station (NTAS)
at 15°N, 51°W, and a site north of Hawaii near the Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT) site at
22.75°N, 158°W known as the WHOI Hawaii Ocean Time-series Station or WHOTS. Moorings
at the Stratus and NTAS sites were first deployed in 2000 and 2001, respectively, and became
long-term Ocean Reference Stations.
WHOTS was established in 2004, in collaboration with
investigators that have made shipboard and moored observations in that region in recent years.
The users of Ocean Reference Station data are:
1) Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP)
centers, including the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in the United
States, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Europe, the
Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR);
 2) climate modeling groups and
groups analyzing the realism of climate models, NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric
Research) in the U.S. and the international SURFA (Surface Flux Analysis) project where ORS
data is used as validation truth for examining the performance of many different climate models
from different countries;
 3) those analyzing and assessing the realism of satellite retrievals at the
sea surface (sea surface temperature) and of surface meteorology (e.g., winds) and surface waves,
including investigators at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and ESA
(European Space Agency);
 4) those working to developed gridded fields of air-sea fluxes of heat,
moisture, and momentum to accurately determine and monitor these fields on a global basis,
including Dr. Lisan Yu at WHOI, whose OAFlux project uses the ORS data to validate the
OAFlux fields;
5.) investigators and researchers studying air-sea interaction, cloud physics, and
upper ocean dynamics at key locations, such as under the marine stratus clouds off Chile
(Stratus) and in trade wind locations such as NTAS and WHOTS;
6) investigators working under
VOCALS (VAMOS Ocean Cloud Land Atmosphere Study, where VAMOS is the Variability of
the American Monsoon Systems of the international CLIVAR (Climate Variability research
program)), which has focused on improved understanding and prediction of the marine stratus
and its impacts on climate over the Americas; and
 7) ocean model developers and users at US
research and operational model centers, who use the time series of ocean variability at the ORS to
examine the realism of ocean models and the time series of surface fluxes to evaluate the forcing
fields they use to drive their ocean models.

Users of the ORS platforms in addition to our effort include:
1) the National Data BuoyCenter (NDBC), an NDBC surface wave package is installed on the Stratus ORS to providesurface wave data in the extremely data sparse eastern South Pacific,
2) NOAA PMEL (PacificMarine Environmental Laboratory), which has installed instrumentation to measure carbondioxide in the surface waters at the Stratus and WHOTS ORS, and
3) investigators from WHOI, LDEO (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University), the Institut fur Meereskunde an der Universitat Kiel (IFMK), and Dr. Sam Laney (WHOI, funded by NASA to study ocean color) who have installed or will be installing instrumentation to study ocean mixing, oceanic oxygen minimum layers, and ocean color.