Marine Science Faculty Publications

Global Patterns of Spatial and Temporal Variability in Salinity from Multiple Gridded Argo Products

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Salinity is one of the fundamental ocean state variables and has been used to infer important information about climate change and variability. Previous studies have found inconsistent salinity variations in various objective ocean analyses that are based on the Argo measurements. However, as far as we are aware, a comprehensive assessment of those inconsistencies, as well as robust spatial and temporal features of salinity variability among the Argo-based products, has not been conducted. Here we compare and evaluate ocean salinity variability from five objective ocean analyses that are solely or primarily based on Argo measurements for their overlapping period from 2005 to 2015. We examine the salinity variability at the sea surface and within two depth intervals (0–700 and 700–2000 m). Our results show that the climatological mean is generally consistent among all examined products, although regional discrepancies are evident in the subsurface ocean. The time evolution, vertical structure, and leading EOF modes of salinity variations show good agreement among most of the examined products, indicating that a number of robust features of the salinity variability can be obtained by examining gridded Argo products. However, significant discrepancies in these variations exist, particularly in the subsurface North Atlantic and Southern Oceans. Also, despite the increasing number of Argo floats deployed in the ocean, the discrepancies were not significantly reduced over time. Our analyses, particularly those of the discrepancies between products, can serve as a useful reference for utilizing and improving the existing objective ocean analyses that are based on Argo measurements.

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Journal of Climate, v. 33, issue 20, p. 8751-8766