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Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology








Satellite-derived surface data have become an important source of information for studies of the Gulf Stream system. The question of just how useful these datasets are for nowcasting the subsurface thermal fields, however, remains to be fully explored. Three types of surface data-sea surface temperature (SST), sea surface height (SSH), and Gulf Stream position (GSP)-are used here in a series of data assimilation experiments to test their usefulness when assimilated into a realistic primitive equation model. The U.S. Navy's analysis fields from the Optimal Thermal Interpolation System are used to simulate the surface data and to evaluate nowcast errors. Correlation factors between variations of the surface data and variations of the subsurface temperature are used to project the surface information into the deep ocean, using data and model error estimates and an optimal interpolation approach to blend model and observed fields. While assimilation of each surface data source shows some skill in nowcasting the subsurface fields (i.e., reducing errors compared to a control case without assimilation), SSH data reduce errors more effectively in middepths (around 500 m), and SST data reduce errors more effectively in the upper layers (above 100 m). Assimilation of GSP is effective in nowcasting the deep Gulf Stream, while the model dynamics produce eddies that are not included in the GSP analysis. An attempt to optimally combine SST and SSH data in the assimilation shows an improved skill at all depths compared to assimilation of each set of data separately.

Original Publication Citation

Ezer, T., & Mellor, G.L. (1997). Data assimilation experiments in the Gulf Stream region: How useful are satellite-derived surface data for nowcasting the subsurface fields? Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 14(6), 1379-1391. doi: 10.1175/1520-0426(1997)0142.0.CO;2


0000-0002-2018-6071 (Ezer), 0000-0002-3525-1841 (Mellor)


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