TABLE 2-1 The Role of Ocean in Climate: Areas Where Observatories Are Very Useful to Investigate a Particular Scientific Problem and Where They Are Useful

Observatory science is VERY USEFUL in accomplishing the following:

  • Test and improve ocean circulation models;

  • Observe and understand extratropical coupling of ocean and atmosphere on seasonal to interdecadal timescales;

  • Understand the physics of the exchange processes between the ocean and atmosphere;

  • Observe the generation, maintenance, and destruction of ocean climate anomalies;

  • Predict climate variability and change;

  • Monitor, understand, and predict

    • the sequestration of carbon dioxide in the ocean;

    • productivity and biomass variability, including identification of the factors that control them;

    • the full temporal and vertical evolution of thermohaline structure;

    • rapid episodic changes of the ocean (e.g., mixed-layer response to hurricanes, deep convection, meridional overturning circulation);

    • changes in water mass transformation processes;

    • air-sea exchanges of heat, moisture, momentum, and gases;

    • thermohaline variability in the Arctic and Antarctic;

    • vertical exchanges of heat, salt, nutrients, and carbon;

    • the pathways of ocean transports, such as deep western boundary currents; and

    • the role of eddies in transport and mixing.

  • Provide reference sites for calibration or verification of

    • air-sea fluxes from numerical weather prediction models, satellites, and other methods;

    • absolute interior and Ekman layer velocities;

    • remotely sensed variables (sea surface temperature, sea level, wind, color); and

    • model statistics, physics, and parameterizations and how they change in evolving climate systems.

Observatory science is USEFUL in investigating the following:

  • Water mass formation and destruction; and

  • The relationship of heat and freshwater fluxes to wind and buoyancy forcing.

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