The 2021 hurricane season is off to a busy start with five named storms having already formed in the Atlantic Ocean. Recently, Tropical Storm Claudette travelled directly over three ocean observation platforms, providing key ocean data for the initialization of the ocean component for hurricane forecast models.
AOML Researchers Monitor Important Boundary Currents in the North Atlantic Ocean Through Direct Measurements at Sea
Researchers from the Physical Oceanography Division of AOML conduct regular hydrographic surveys to monitor the western boundary current system in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. These cruises are a part of the laboratory’s long-running Western Boundary Time Series (WBTS) project and are designed to monitor both the Florida Current, east of Florida in the Florida Straits, and the North Atlantic Deep Western Boundary Current east of the Bahamas in the North Atlantic Ocean. These western boundary currents are important parts of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).
In a recent study published in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans, scientists at AOML identified key ocean features that supported the rapid intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018), despite unfavorable atmospheric conditions for development. The study demonstrates the importance of using realistic ocean conditions for coupled (ocean-atmosphere) hurricane models in order to achieve the most accurate hurricane intensity forecasts.
Scientists at AOML are preparing for the active anticipated 2021 Atlantic hurricane season with the introduction of new observation tools, modeling techniques, and field campaigns to improve hurricane intensity and track forecasts.
BGC Argo Floats Provide First Year-Round Net Primary Production Estimates for the Western North Atlantic
Phytoplankton drifting near the ocean surface play a critical role in marine biogeochemistry, carbon cycling, and ecosystem health. But measuring the activity of these microscopic organisms is challenging. Although scientists rely on ship-based sampling and satellites to quantify their abundance, both methods have limitations. In a study published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences,* Argo profiling floats equipped with biogeochemical sensors, i.e., BGC Argo floats, were used to obtain the first year-long estimates of phytoplankton in the western North Atlantic Ocean.
AOML Scientists Develop First-ever Daily Estimates of the Heat Transport in the South Atlantic Ocean
In a recent article published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans, scientists at AOML evaluate the variability of the heat transport in the South Atlantic by developing a new method to measure its changes on a daily basis. This study presents, for the first time, full‐depth, daily measurements of the volume and heat transported by the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) in the South Atlantic at 34.5°S based on direct observations.
AOML Scientists Monitor How Heat and Water are Transported Through the Atlantic Ocean Using Field and Satellite Observations
In a recently published study, scientists at AOML present 28-year long (1993-2020) estimates of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) volume and heat transports at multiple latitudes by merging in-situ oceanographic and satellite observations. By combining ocean observations with satellite data, they were able to estimate the AMOC volume and heat transports in near real time. These data can be used to validate ocean models, to detect climate variability, and to investigate their impact on extreme weather events.
Scientists at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory are now focusing on what happens where the sea meets the atmosphere to help solve the hurricane intensity problem. The place right above where the air meets the sea is called the planetary boundary layer. The ocean drives global weather. By building on past research, scientists have determined that factors in the boundary layer and underlying ocean such as salinity, temperature, currents, wave and wind patterns, precipitation, are crucial to understanding the energy that fuels a hurricane.
A recently published paper presents the Sargassum Inundation Report (SIR), a product that uses a satellite-based methodology to monitor from space areas with coastal inundation of pelagic Sargassum in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. The SIR was created as a response to the need to improve the monitoring and management of Sargassum influxes (e.g., coordinate clean-up), which have major economic, social, environmental, and public health impacts.
On February 24, researchers with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory returned to land, docking in Key West after nearly six weeks aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown. The scientists were at sea for the PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic) Northeast Extension (PNE) cruise, a joint effort between AOML and NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory to maintain an expansion of the PIRATA array of surface moorings into the northern and northeastern sectors of the tropical Atlantic.