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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Studies Of Upper Ocean Dynamics Related To The Pacific Decadal Oscillation Using Satellite Altimeter Data And Derived Velocity Fields
Studies Of Upper Ocean Dynamics Related To The Pacific Decadal Oscillation Using Satellite Altimeter Data And Derived Velocity Fields
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Gary Lagerloef
(Earth and Space Research)

Fabrice Bonjean
(Earth and Space Research)
Gary Mitchum
(University of South Florida)


We are investigating the ocean dynamics associated with the climate mode known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The U.S. CLIVAR program has a primary goal to understand the major patterns of climate variability on decadal time scales and evaluate their predictability. It identifies the PDO as having an unusually large expression in North America, and it significantly impacts water resources in the western U.S. and Canada, thereby affecting hydropower, agriculture, wildfires brought on by drought conditions, and biological populations, including salmon (US CLIVAR Office, 2000). The satellite altimeter data record now exceeds 15 years, and near the middle of that record was a strong climatic shift in the North Pacific that bore many signatures of the PDO changing from warm phase to cool. Our research will be the first to apply direct measurements of surface currents from satellite altimeter and vector wind data, which we have developed and refined under prior and ongoing research support, in order to investigate the large scale ocean circulation variability associated with this important climate signal. We will specifically investigate the role of ocean transport of surface properties and the oceanÕs dynamic response to stochastic wind forcing in governing the observed responses of sea surface temperature (SST) and topography, and examine leading indices that my provide a measure of predictability. This research directly addresses NASAÕs Strategic Sub-goal (3A) to study Earth from space to advance scientific understanding and meet societal needs, and the objectives of the Ocean Surface Topography Science Team (OSTST) to support studies in physical oceanography utilizing Jason/OSTM mission data, as well as the combined 15-year TP/Jason data, jointly with other satellite and in situ data to resolve the large-scale redistribution of heat and mass in the upper ocean and exchanges with the atmosphere, covering studies of open ocean circulation, including intraseasonal-to-interannual variability.

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