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Applications of Data Assimilation to Analysis of the Ocean on Large ScalesIt is commonplace to begin talks on this topic by noting that oceanographic data are too scarce and sparse to provide complete initial and boundary conditions for large-scale ocean models. Even considering the availability of remotely-sensed data such as radar altimetry from the TOPEX and ERS-1 satellites, a glance at a map of available subsurface data should convince most observers that this is still the case. Data are still too sparse for comprehensive treatment of interannual to interdecadal climate change through the use of models, since the new data sets have not been around for very long. In view of the dearth of data, we must note that the overall picture is changing rapidly. Recently, there have been a number of large scale ocean analysis and prediction efforts, some of which now run on an operational or at least quasi-operational basis, most notably the model based analyses of the tropical oceans. These programs are modeled on numerical weather prediction. Aside from the success of the global tide models, assimilation of data in the tropics, in support of prediction and analysis of seasonal to interannual climate change, is probably the area of large scale ocean modeling and data assimilation in which the most progress has been made. Climate change is a problem which is particularly suited to advanced data assimilation methods. Linear models are useful, and the linear theory can be exploited. For the most part, the data are sufficiently sparse that implementation of advanced methods is worthwhile. As an example of a large scale data assimilation experiment with a recent extensive data set, we present results of a tropical ocean experiment in which the Kalman filter was used to assimilate three years of altimetric data from Geosat into a coarsely resolved linearized long wave shallow water model. Since nonlinear processes dominate the local dynamic signal outside the tropics, subsurface dynamical quantities cannot be reliably inferred from surface height anomalies. Because of its potential for large scale synoptic coverage of the deep ocean, acoustic travel time data should be a natural complement to satellite altimetry. Satellite data give us vertical integrals associated with thermodynamic and dynamic processes.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Miller, Robert N. (Oregon State Univ. Corvallis, OR United States)
Busalacchi, Antonio J. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Hackert, Eric C. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1997
Publication Information
Publication: Laboratory for Hydrospheric Processes Research Publications
Subject Category
Meeting Information
Assimilation of Observations in Meteorology and Oceanography(Tokyo)
Funding Number(s)
CONTRACT_GRANT: N00014-92-J-1595
PROJECT: RTOP 578-21-03
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