Assimilation of RAPID array observations into an ocean model



Experiments assimilating the RAPID dataset of deep temperature and salinity profiles at 26.5°N on the western and eastern Atlantic boundaries into a 1° global NEMO ocean model have been performed. The meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is then assessed against the transports calculated directly from observations. The best initialization found for this short period was obtained by assimilating the EN3 upper-ocean hydrography database prior to 2004, after which different methods of assimilating 5-day average RAPID profiles at the western boundary were tested. The model MOC is strengthened by ∼ 2 Sv giving closer agreement with the RAPID array transports, when the western boundary profiles are assimilated only below 900 m (the approximate depth of the Florida Straits, which are not well resolved) and when the T,S observations are spread meridionally from 10 to 35°N along the deep western boundary.

The use of boundary-focused covariances has the largest impact on the assimilation results, otherwise using more conventional Gaussian covariances has a very local impact on the MOC at 26°N with strong adverse impacts on the MOC stream function at higher and lower latitudes. Even using boundary-focused covariances only enables the MOC to be strengthened for ∼ 2 years, after which the increased transport of warm waters leads to a negative feedback on water formation in the subpolar gyre which then reduces the MOC. This negative feedback can be mitigated if EN3 hydrography data continue to be assimilated along with the RAPID array boundary data. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society and Crown in the right of Canada.