Observing ocean heat content using satellite gravity and altimetry

Edited: 2011-02-17
TitleObserving ocean heat content using satellite gravity and altimetry
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsJayne, S. R., J. M. Wahr, and F. Bryan
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research (Oceans)
Date Published02/2003
AbstractA method for combining satellite altimetry observations with satellite measurements of the Earth's time-varying gravity to give improved estimates of the ocean's heat storage is presented. Over the ocean the time-variable component of the geoid can be related to the time-varying bottom pressure. The methodology of estimating the ocean's time-varying heat storage using altimetric observations alone is modified to include observations of bottom pressure. A detailed error analysis of the methodology is undertaken. It is found that the inclusion of bottom pressure improves the ocean heat storage estimates. The improvement comes from a better estimation of the steric sea surface height by the inclusion of bottom pressure in the calculation, over using the altimeter-observed sea surface height alone. On timescales of the annual cycle and shorter the method works particularly well. However, long-timescale changes in the heat storage are poorly reproduced because of deficiencies in the methodology and the presence of contaminating signals in the bottom pressure observations.