Articles | Volume 10, issue 4
Research article
 | Highlight paper
11 Aug 2014
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 11 Aug 2014

Weighing the ocean with bottom-pressure sensors: robustness of the ocean mass annual cycle estimate

Joanne Williams, C. W. Hughes, M. E. Tamisiea, and S. D. P. Williams

Abstract. We use ocean bottom-pressure measurements from 17 tropical sites to determine the annual cycle of ocean mass. We show that such a calculation is robust, and use three methods to estimate errors in the mass determination. Our final best estimate, using data from the best sites and two ocean models, is that the annual cycle has an amplitude of 0.85 mbar (equivalent to 8.4 mm of sea level, or 3100 Gt of water), with a 95% chance of lying within the range 0.61–1.17 mbar. The time of the peak in ocean mass is 10 October, with 95% chance of occurring between 21 September and 25 October. The simultaneous fitting of annual ocean mass also improves the fitting of bottom-pressure instrument drift.