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Adequacy of the ocean observation system for quantifying regional heat and freshwater storage and change

TitleAdequacy of the ocean observation system for quantifying regional heat and freshwater storage and change
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsPalmer M.D, Durack P.J, Chidichimo M.P, Church J.A, Cravatte S., Hill K., Johannessen J.A, Karstensen J, Lee T., Legler D., Mazloff M., Oka E., Purkey S., Rabe B., Sallee J.B, Sloyan BM, Speich S., von Schuckmann K., Willis J., Wijffels S.
Date Published2019/08
Type of ArticleReview
Accession NumberWOS:000483055000001
KeywordsAntarctic Bottom Water; circulation; climate change; Climate variability; el-nino; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; freshwater content; global ocean; heat content; level rise; Marine & Freshwater Biology; Meridional overturning; north-atlantic ocean; observing system; observing system design; ocean observing; reanalyses intercomparison project; salinity; sea-surface salinity; southern-ocean; system; temperature

Considerable advances in the global ocean observing system over the last two decades offers an opportunity to provide more quantitative information on changes in heat and freshwater storage. Variations in these storage terms can arise through internal variability and also the response of the ocean to anthropogenic climate change. Disentangling these competing influences on the regional patterns of change and elucidating their governing processes remains an outstanding scientific challenge. This challenge is compounded by instrumental and sampling uncertainties. The combined use of ocean observations and model simulations is the most viable method to assess the forced signal from noise and ascertain the primary drivers of variability and change. Moreover, this approach offers the potential for improved seasonal-to-decadal predictions and the possibility to develop powerful multi-variate constraints on climate model future projections. Regional heat storage changes dominate the steric contribution to sea level rise over most of the ocean and are vital to understanding both global and regional heat budgets. Variations in regional freshwater storage are particularly relevant to our understanding of changes in the hydrological cycle and can potentially be used to verify local ocean mass addition from terrestrial and cryospheric systems associated with contemporary sea level rise. This White Paper will examine the ability of the current ocean observing system to quantify changes in regional heat and freshwater storage. In particular we will seek to answer the question: What time and space scales are currently resolved in different regions of the global oceans? In light of some of the key scientific questions, we will discuss the requirements for measurement accuracy, sampling, and coverage as well as the synergies that can be leveraged by more comprehensively analyzing the multi-variable arrays provided by the integrated observing system.

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