Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
Ocean Sci., 11, 839–853, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-11-839-2015
Ocean Sci., 11, 839–853, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-11-839-2015

Research article 19 Oct 2015

Research article | 19 Oct 2015

On the observability of turbulent transport rates by Argo: supporting evidence from an inversion experiment

G. Forget1, D. Ferreira2, and X. Liang1 G. Forget et al.
  • 1Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
  • 2Dept. of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Abstract. Although estimation of turbulent transport parameters using inverse methods is not new, there is little evaluation of the method in the literature. Here, it is shown that extended observation of the broad-scale hydrography by Argo provides a path to improved estimates of regional turbulent transport rates. Results from a 20-year ocean state estimate produced with the ECCO v4 (Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, version 4) non-linear inverse modeling framework provide supporting evidence. Turbulent transport parameter maps are estimated under the constraints of fitting the extensive collection of Argo profiles collected through 2011. The adjusted parameters dramatically reduce misfits to in situ profiles as compared with earlier ECCO solutions. They also yield a clear reduction in the model drift away from observations over multi-century-long simulations, both for assimilated variables (temperature and salinity) and independent variables (biogeochemical tracers). Despite the minimal constraints imposed specifically on the estimated parameters, their geography is physically plausible and exhibits close connections with the upper-ocean stratification as observed by Argo. The estimated parameter adjustments furthermore have first-order impacts on upper-ocean stratification and mixed layer depths over 20 years. These results identify the constraint of fitting Argo profiles as an effective observational basis for regional turbulent transport rate inversions. Uncertainties and further improvements of the method are discussed.

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Short summary
Results from the ECCO v4 ocean state estimate identify the constraint of fitting Argo profiles as an effective observational basis for inverse estimation of regional turbulent transport rates. The estimated parameters' geography is physically plausible and exhibits close connections with the observed upper-ocean stratification. They yield a clear reduction in the model drift away from observations over multi-century-long simulations, including for independent biochemistry variables.