Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
20 Jul 2006
20 Jul 2006

Distributions of mixed layer properties in North Pacific water mass formation areas: comparison of Argo floats and World Ocean Atlas 2001

F. M. Bingham and T. Suga

Abstract. Winter mixed layer characteristics in the North Pacific Ocean are examined and compared between Argo floats in 2006 and the World Ocean Atlas 2001 (WOA01) climatology for a series of named water masses, North Pacific Tropical Water (NPTW), Eastern Subtropical Mode Water (ESTMW), North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water (NPSTMW), Light Central Mode Water (LCMW) and Dense Central Mode Water (DCMW). The WOA01 is found to be in good agreement with the Argo data in terms of water mass volumes, average temperature-salinity (T-S) properties, and outcrop areas. The exception to this conclusion is for the central mode waters, DCMW and LCMW, whose outcropping is shown to be much more intermittent than is apparent in the WOA01 and whose T-S properties vary from what is shown in the WOA01. Distributions of mixed layer T-S properties measured by floats are examined within the outcropping areas defined by the WOA01 and show some shifting of T-S characteristics within the confines of the named water masses. In 2006, all the water masses were warmer than climatology on average, with a magnitude of about 0.5°C. The NPTW, NPSTMW and LCMW were saltier than climatology and the ESTMW and DCMW fresher, with magnitudes of about 0.05. In order to put these results into context, differences between Argo and WOA01 were examined over the North Pacific between 20 and 45° N. A large-scsale warming and freshening is seen throughout this area, except for the western North Pacific, where results were more mixed.