Impacts of mean dynamic topography on a regional ocean assimilation system
Abstract. An ocean data assimilation system was developed for the Pacific–Indian oceans with the aim of assimilating altimetry data, sea surface temperature, and in situ measurements from Argo (Array for Real-time Geostrophic Oceanography), XBT (expendable bathythermographs), CTD (conductivity temperature depth), and TAO (Tropical Atmosphere Ocean). The altimetry data assimilation requires the addition of the mean dynamic topography to the altimetric sea level anomaly to match the model sea surface height. The mean dynamic topography is usually computed from the model long-term mean sea surface height, and is also available from gravimetric satellite data. In this study, the impact of different mean dynamic topographies on the sea level anomaly assimilation is examined. Results show that impacts of the mean dynamic topography cannot be neglected. The mean dynamic topography from the model long-term mean sea surface height without assimilating in situ observations results in worsened subsurface temperature and salinity estimates. Even if all available observations including in situ measurements, sea surface temperature measurements, and altimetry data are assimilated, the estimates are still not improved. This proves the significant impact of the MDT (mean dynamic topography) on the analysis system, as the other types of observations do not compensate for the shortcoming due to the altimetry data assimilation. The gravimeter-based mean dynamic topography results in a good estimate compared with that of the experiment without assimilation. The mean dynamic topography computed from the model long-term mean sea surface height after assimilating in situ observations presents better results.