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Interannual variability in North Pacific heat and freshwater budgets

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Douglass, E., Roemmich, D., & Stammer, D. (2010). Interannual variability in North Pacific heat and freshwater budgets. DEEP-SEA RESEARCH PART II-TOPICAL STUDIES IN OCEANOGRAPHY, 57(13-14), 1127-1140. doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2010.01.001.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0015-8825-F
Abstract
Transports of volume, heat, and freshwater in the North Pacific Ocean from 1992 to 2004 are analyzed using a long-term high resolution expendable bathythermography (XBT) dataset and output from a data-assimilating model. Estimates of geostrophic transport from the data are compared with the model transport to close the volume budget north of the trans-Pacific XBT track. Advective transport from both model output and data are combined with surface fluxes to determine budgets of heat and freshwater in the closed region. The northward heat transport across the XBT track is estimated to be 0.74 +/- 0.1 pW, and has variability of almost 0.5 pW on 3-4 year time scales, while freshwater transport is estimated to be -0.1 +/- 0.06 Sv. The balance between northward advective heat transport and surface heat flux gives a time-varying estimate of heat storage that compares well with observations. A similar balance is found between model estimates of advective freshwater transport and surface freshwater flux. Despite a scarcity of observations and uncertainties in all components, this analysis results in nearly closed budgets of volume, heat, and freshwater. Mean estimates of advective transport of both heat and freshwater agree with previous estimates. An analysis of each component of the heat budget with latitude indicates that a relative lack of time-variability of the surface component is consistent throughout the North Pacific. The dominant advective component is driven by changes in the wind stress curl field. For both heat and freshwater storage, strong signals occur concurrently at all latitudes. This behavior could indicate that these signals are controlled by large-scale dynamics, rather than small-scale disturbances from which signals would need to propagate to be widely felt. The analysis demonstrates the value of bringing models and data together, resulting in budgets that are consistent with observations, yet provide a comprehensive look at the variability of North Pacific heat and freshwater storage that would be unavailable from data alone. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.