Consistency of the current global ocean observing systems from an Argo perspective
Variations in the world's ocean heat storage and its associated volume changes are a key factor to gauge global warming and to assess the Earth's energy budget. It is also directly link to sea level change, which has a direct impact on coastal populations. Understanding and monitoring heat and sea level change is therefore one of the major legacies of current global ocean observing systems. In this study, we present an inter-comparison of the three of these global ocean observing systems: the ocean temperature/salinity network Argo, the gravimeter GRACE and the satellite altimeters. Their consistency is investigated at global and regional scale during the period 2005–2010 of overlapping time window of re-qualified data. These three datasets allow closing the recent global ocean sea level budget within uncertainties. However, sampling inconsistencies need to be corrected for an accurate budget at global scale. The Argo network allows estimating global ocean heat content and global sea level and reveals a positive change of 0.5 ± 0.1W m−2 and 0.5 ± 0.1 mm yr−1 over the last 8 yr (2005–2012). Regional inter-comparison of the global observing systems highlights the importance of specific ocean basins for the global estimates. Specifically, the Indonesian Archipelago appears as a key region for the global ocean variability. Both the large regional variability and the uncertainties in the current observing systems, prevent us to shed light, from the global sea level perspective, on the climatically important deep ocean changes. This emphasises, once more, the importance of continuing sustained effort in measuring the deep ocean from ship platforms and by setting up a much needed automated deep-Argo network.
Authors: von Schuckmann, K., Sallée, J.-B., Chambers, D., Le Traon, P.-Y., Cabanes, C., Gaillard, F., Speich, S., Hamon, M.