Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
Ocean Sci., 4, 247–263, 2008

Special issue: Ocean sensors

Ocean Sci., 4, 247–263, 2008

  10 Dec 2008

10 Dec 2008

Sensors for physical fluxes at the sea surface: energy, heat, water, salt

R. A. Weller1, E. F. Bradley2, J. B. Edson3, C. W. Fairall4, I. Brooks5, M. J. Yelland6, and R. W. Pascal6 R. A. Weller et al.
  • 1Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, USA
  • 2CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) Land and Water, Canberra, Australia
  • 3University of Connecticut, Connecticut, USA
  • 4NOAA ESRL (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory), Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 5University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 6National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK

Abstract. The current status of meteorological sensors used aboard ships and buoys to measure the air-sea fluxes of momentum, heat, and freshwater is reviewed. Methods of flux measurement by the bulk aerodynamic, inertial dissipation and eddy-correlation methods are considered; and areas are identified where improvements are needed in measurement of the basic variables. In some cases, what is required is the transition from emergent to operational technology, in others new technologies are needed. Uncertainties in measured winds caused by flow distortion over the ship are discussed; and the possible role of computational fluid mechanics models to obtain corrections is considered. Basic studies are also needed on the influence of waves and rain on the fluxes. The issues involved in the specification of sea surface temperature are described, and the relative merits of the available sensors are discussed. The improved capability of buoy-mounted systems will depend on the emergence of low-power instruments, and/or new means of increasing the available power capacity. Other issues covered include the continuing uncertainty about the performance of rain gauges and short-wave radiometers. Also, the requirements for new instruments to extend the range of observations to extreme wind conditions are outlined, and the latest developments in the measurement of aerosol fluxes by eddy-correlation are presented.

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