Achievements in marine climatology

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This special issue contains articles presented at the Third JCOMM Workshop on Advances in Marine Climatology (CLIMAR-III) in Gdynia, Poland (May 2008). In recent years, marine climatology has become an increasingly important component of climate science. For example, analyses of surface meteorological variables provide a foundation for the accurate estimation of surface ocean-atmosphere fluxes and, thus, improve assessment of global and regional energy budgets and forcing functions for ocean general circulation models. Given the explosive development of modern-era reanalyses, marine climatology provides a basis both for evaluating their data assimilation input and validation of the output products. Uncertainties of estimates of climate variability over the oceans are much higher than those over land; therefore, a consolidated effort is needed to reduce these in different variables, targeting, in particular, time-dependent biases associated with changing observational practices and sampling density. This avenue is extremely important for assessments of climate variability and change over the ocean by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). Finally, careful processing and gridding of surface meteorological global time series of waves and winds provides the basis for long-term analysis of changing marine storminess affecting operations of marine carriers and structures. For all these issues, the compilation of surface marine meteorological data updated regularly in the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS) is of utmost importance.

From the start of the CLIMAR Workshops in 1999, alternating with ‘MARCDAT’ Workshops (Kent et al., 2007), these and other issues have been addressed by the effective cross-pollination of ideas, including how to improve the accuracy of marine observations collected by Voluntary Observing Ships (VOS) and how to develop strategies for building homogeneous gridded global datasets with the best available accuracy. The third CLIMAR Workshop highlighted achievements of the last several years in the development of new surface flux datasets, the cross-validation of different surface flux products, in the estimation of different types of biases in surface observations, and the analysis of climate variability in surface marine characteristics relevant to the global climate. The papers of Woodruff et al. (2011) and Wilkinson et al. (2011) report on recent developments in marine dataset development and data archeology. They are complimented by the articles of Palmer & Brohan (2011), Berry & Kent (2011), Smith et al. (2011) and Thomas & Swail (2011), addressing error estimation and quantification of biases in surface marine climatologies of individual variables and fluxes. The paper by Winterfeldt et al. (2011) provides an analysis of marine winds from satellites, reflecting the growing importance of satellite observations for marine climatology. Contributions from Yasunaka & Hanawa (2011), Wolter & Timlin (2011), Walczowski & Piechura (2011), and Schmelzer & Holfort (2011) provide analyses of long-term climate variability and demonstrate the capacity of marine data collections for quantifying climate signals. Altogether, 11 papers give extensive coverage of prominent issues of modern marine climatology.

This special issue is the second collection of articles in marine climatology published by the International Journal of Climatology since the first successful issue in 2005 (Gulev, 2005). We thank the Royal Meteorological Society and the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Climatology, Prof. G. McGregor, for long-term support of publications in marine climatology. Our special thanks to Nadia Kovaleva, whose editorial assistance largely made possible this special issue.

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