Ocean Climate Observations and Analyses (2013-2014)

Robert Weller, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Reference Station project is carried
out to provide critical, sustained observations of a key region of the ocean – the trade wind
region. To collect these obsrvations we have developed surface moorings with the capability of
making sustained, accurate observations at the sea surface and in the water column and have
chosen and occupied three key trade wind sites. These surface moorings are known as Ocean
Reference Stations (ORS). The three sites are the Stratus ORS, the NTAS (Northwest Tropical
Atlantic Station) ORS, and the WHOTS (WHOI Hawaii Ocean Timeseries Site) ORS. The use
of surface moorings for sustained observations allows the following objectives to be met: 1)
provision of high temporal resolution, with sampling down to minutes to record high amplitude,
short-lived events in the surface meteorology, air-sea fluxes, and upper ocean structure, 2)
provision of high vertical resolution in the stratified upper ocean that is in close contact to the
atmosphere and links the upper ocean to the interior of the ocean, 3) sampling of a changing
environment in a sustained way, and 4) provision of continuous time series at a point for
validation, verification, and calibration of models and remote sensing methods. 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. The work proposed here includes the cruises to each of
the Stratus, NTAS, and WHOTS ORS sites, the preparation of a mooring and instrumentation for
deployment at each site, the deployment of the new moorings, the recovery of the moorings now
deployed, the post cruise calibrations and maitenance on the recovered instruments, and the
processing, analysis, and distribution of the data from the three ORS. The work is to be done in
collaboration with NOAA laboratories and the NOAA National Data Buoy Center and, for
WHOTS, with colleagues at the University of Hawaii.