A decade of acoustic thermometry in the North Pacific Ocean

Dushaw, BD, Worcester PF, Munk WH, Spindel RC, Mercer JA, Howe BM, Metzger K, Birdsall TG, Andrew RK, Dzieciuch MA, Cornuelle BD, Menemenlis D.  2009.  A decade of acoustic thermometry in the North Pacific Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 114

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arctic-ocean, basin-scale tomography, climate, heard island, kauai source, long-range, model, sea-level rise, temperature, transmissions


Over the decade 1996-2006, acoustic sources located off central California (1996 1999) and north of Kauai (1997-1999, 2002-2006) transmitted to receivers distributed throughout the northeast and north central Pacific. The acoustic travel times are inherently spatially integrating, which suppresses mesoscale variability and provides a precise measure of ray-averaged temperature. Daily average travel times at 4-day intervals provide excellent temporal resolution of the large-scale thermal field. The interannual, seasonal, and shorter-period variability is large, with substantial changes sometimes occurring in only a few weeks. Linear trends estimated over the decade are small compared to the interannual variability and inconsistent from path to path, with some acoustic paths warming slightly and others cooling slightly. The measured travel times are compared with travel times derived from four independent estimates of the North Pacific: (1) climatology, as represented by the World Ocean Atlas 2005 (WOA05); (2) objective analysis of the upper-ocean temperature field derived from satellite altimetry and in situ profiles; (3) an analysis provided by the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean project, as implemented at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL-ECCO); and (4) simulation results from a high-resolution configuration of the Parallel Ocean Program (POP) model. The acoustic data show that WOA05 is a better estimate of the time mean hydrography than either the JPL-ECCO or the POP estimates, both of which proved incapable of reproducing the observed acoustic arrival patterns. The comparisons of time series provide a stringent test of the large-scale temperature variability in the models. The differences are sometimes substantial, indicating that acoustic thermometry data can provide significant additional constraints for numerical ocean models.






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