An assessment of the uncertainties in ocean surface turbulent fluxes in 11 reanalysis, satellite-derived, and combined global datasets

Michael A. Brunke, Zhuo Wang, Xubin Zeng, Michael Bosilovich, Chung Lin Shie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ocean surface turbulent fluxes play an important role in the energy and water cycles of the atmosphere- ocean coupled system, and several flux products have become available in recent years. Here, turbulent fluxes from 6 widely used reanalyses, 4 satellite-derived flux products, and 2 combined product are evaluated by comparison with direct covariance latent heat (LH) and sensible heat (SH) fluxes and inertial-dissipation wind stresses measured from 12 cruises over the tropics and mid- and high latitudes. The biases range from -3.0 to 20.2 W m-2 for LH flux, from -1.4 to 6.0 W m-2 for SH flux, and from -7.6 to 7.9 × 10-3 N m-2 for wind stress. These biases are small for moderate wind speeds but diverge for strong wind speeds (>10 m s-1). The total flux biases are then further evaluated by dividing them into uncertainties due to errors in the bulk variables and the residual uncertainty. The bulk-variable-caused uncertainty dominates many products' SH flux and wind stress biases. The biases in the bulk variables that contribute to this uncertainty can be quite high depending on the cruise and the variable. Onthe basis of a ranking of each product's flux, it is found that the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) is among the "best performing" for all three fluxes. Also, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) interim reanalysis (ERA-Interim) and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction-Department of Energy (NCEP-DOE) reanalysis are among the best performing for two of the three fluxes. Of the satellite-derived products, version 2b of the Goddard Satellite-Based Surface Turbulent Fluxes (GSSTF2b) is among the best performing for two of the three fluxes. Also among the best performing for only one of the fluxes are the 40-yr ERA (ERA-40) and the combined product objectively analyzed air-sea fluxes (OAFlux). Direction for the future development of ocean surface flux datasets is also suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5469-5493
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume24
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

Keywords

  • Data processing distribution
  • Fluxes
  • Satellite observations
  • Turbulence
  • Wind stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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