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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00589

Satellite-driven estimates of water mass formation and their spatio-temporal evolution

 Aqeel Piracha1*,  Roberto Sabia1, 2 and Marlene Klockmann3
  • 1European Space Research Institute (ESRIN), Italy
  • 2European Space Research Institute (ESRIN), Italy
  • 3Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Coastal Research (HZG), Germany

4 We derive water mass transformation and formation rates using satellite-derived datasets of
5 salinity, temperature and fluxes of heat and freshwater over the North Atlantic, North Pacific
6 and Southern Ocean. The formation rates are expressed in three coordinate systems: (1) density,
7 (2) temperature-salinity and (3) latitude-longitude. In the North Atlantic and North Pacific, peak
8 formation occurs south of the western boundary current extensions during the winter months of
9 the study period. In the Southern Ocean, wintertime peak formation occurs just north of the sub-
10 Antarctic Front. The satellite-derived water mass properties and formation areas agree well with
11 previous estimates from literature. The location of peak Mode Water formation varies slightly with
12 time in all coordinate systems. We assess seasonal and inter-annual variability in all three basins
13 from 2012 to 2014. We assess the impact of satellite uncertainties on final estimates of formation
14 rates and areas with Monte-Carlo simulations. The simulations provide insights on the associated
15 uncertainty of formation estimates. They also provide information on the geographic spread of the
16 water mass formation area subject to the satellite errors. We find that the total uncertainty is
17 dominated by the uncertainty in the sea surface salinity dataset. This stresses the need for frequent
18 and increasingly accurate sea surface salinity data for reliable estimates of water mass formation
19 rates and areas. Our study highlights the feasibility of providing satellite-based estimates of water
20 mass formation rates and areas. The good spatio-temporal coverage of satellite data further adds
21 to the utility of the approach.

Keywords: Satellite, SMOS, water mass, Water Mass formation, Sea surface salinity, mode water

Received: 29 Dec 2018; Accepted: 05 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Piracha, Sabia and Klockmann. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Aqeel Piracha, European Space Research Institute (ESRIN), Frascati, 00044, Lazio, Italy, apiracha@btinternet.com