The Global Ocean Water Cycle in Atmospheric Reanalysis, Satellite, and Ocean Salinity

Journal of Climate | Yu et al. [2017]


This study provides an assessment of the uncertainty in ocean-surface (OS) freshwater budgets and variability using evaporation (E) and precipitation (P) from 10 atmospheric reanalyses, 2 combined satellite-based E-P products, and 2 observation-based salinity products. Three issues are examined: the uncertainty level in the OS freshwater budget in atmospheric reanalyses, the uncertainty structure and association with the global ocean wet/dry zones, and the potential of salinity in ascribing the uncertainty in E-P. The products agree on the global mean pattern but differ considerably in magnitude. The OS freshwater budgets are 129±10 (8%) cm yr-1 for E, 118±11 (9%) cm yr-1 for P, and 11±4 (36%) cm yr-1 for E-P, where the mean and error represent the ensemble mean and one standard deviation of the ensemble spread. The E-P uncertainty exceeds the uncertainty in E and P by a factor of four or more. The large uncertainty is attributed to P in the tropical wet zone. Most reanalyses tend to produce a wider tropical rain band when compared to satellite products, with the exception of two recent reanalyses that implement an observation-based correction for the model-generated P over land. The disparity in the width and the extent of seasonal migrations of the tropical wet zone causes large spread in P, implying that the tropical moist physics and the realism of tropical rainfall remain a key challenge. Satellite salinity appears feasible to evaluate the fidelity of E-P variability in three tropical areas, where the uncertainty diagnosis has a global indication.

Full text can be found here.



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