Evaluation of the S(T) assimilation method with the Argo dataset
Smith, G. and Haines, K. (2009) Evaluation of the S(T) assimilation method with the Argo dataset. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 135 (640). pp. 739-756. ISSN 1477-870X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/qj.395
Recent observations from the Argo dataset of temperature and salinity profiles are used to evaluate a series of 3-year data assimilation experiments in a global ice–ocean general circulation model. The experiments are designed to evaluate a new data assimilation system whereby salinity is assimilated along isotherms, S(T ). In addition, the role of a balancing salinity increment to maintain water mass properties is investigated. This balancing increment is found to effectively prevent spurious mixing in tropical regions induced by univariate temperature assimilation, allowing the correction of isotherm geometries without adversely influencing temperature–salinity relationships. In addition, the balancing increment is able to correct a fresh bias associated with a weak subtropical gyre in the North Atlantic using only temperature observations. The S(T ) assimilation method is found to provide an important improvement over conventional depth level assimilation, with lower root-mean-squared forecast errors over the upper 500 m in the tropical Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. An additional set of experiments is performed whereby Argo data are withheld and used for independent evaluation. The most significant improvements from Argo assimilation are found in less well-observed regions (Indian, South Atlantic and South Pacific Oceans). When Argo salinity data are assimilated in addition to temperature, improvements to modelled temperature fields are obtained due to corrections to model density gradients and the resulting circulation. It is found that observations from the Argo array provide an invaluable tool for both correcting modelled water mass properties through data assimilation and for evaluating the assimilation methods themselves.