Importance of Upper Ocean Thermal Data

The need for UOT data has been extensively documented in the program plans of the large-scale climate and oceanographic programs. For example, UOT observations are given as the third highest priority, after SST and surface winds, in the plan for post-TOGA observations (NRC, 1994). Directed at "supporting short-term climate predictions" the post-TOGA UOT data are "central to the successful initialization of coupled atmosphere-ocean models". To date, UOT data have been shown to make a considerable improvement on predictive skill of NOAA\'s Coupled Model Project (CMP) model (Ji, 1994, personal communication).

In WOCE, "there is a need for measurements of the change in heat content in the upper ocean, primarily as a way to improve the reliability of estimates of the heat flux" (WMO, 1986). In ACCP, UOT data collection and analysis are supported to study the role of subsurface oceanic processes on decadal SST variability (Molinari et al., 1994). In these and other programs, UOT data are also required to increase understanding of oceanic dynamics and for numerical model verification. TOGA, WOCE, and ACCP recognize the need for continued oceanographic observations and have as an important objective the establishment of the long-term measurement networks that will constitute GOOS.

The objectives and methodology of the UOTC are directly relevant to the goals of several of the OGP components. ACCP requirements in the program announcement include: "modeling of the maintenance and variability of the relatively warm upper layer in the Grand Banks region and the sea surface temperature field of the tropical Atlantic" and "use of conceptual and numerical models to synthesize near surface data". Definition of climate signals and network evaluation studies will address both these requirements. Climate observations will "support design studies and observing system simulation experiments aimed at assessing the impact of ocean data on climate prediction". The network evaluation studies are directly applicable to this objective. Finally, "GOALS will support research in the areas of monitoring, data management, empirical studies, modeling and prediction", all objectives of the UOTC.

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