Review and assessment of latent and sensible heat flux accuracy over the global oceans

For over a decade, several research groups have been developing air-sea heat flux information over the global ocean, including latent (LHF) and sensible (SHF) heat fluxes over the global ocean. This paper aims to provide new insight into the quality and error characteristics of turbulent heat flux estimates at various spatial and temporal scales (from daily upwards). The study is performed within the European Space Agency (ESA) Ocean Heat Flux (OHF) project. One of the main objectives of the OHF project is to meet the recommendations and requirements expressed by various international programs such as the World Research Climate Program (WCRP) and Climate and Ocean Variability, Predictability, and Change (CLIVAR), recognizing the need for better characterization of existing flux errors with respect to the input bulk variables (e.g. surface wind, air and sea surface temperatures, air and surface specific humidities), and to the atmospheric and oceanic conditions (e.g. wind conditions and sea state). The analysis is based on the use of daily averaged LHF and SHF and the associated bulk variables derived from major satellite-based and atmospheric reanalysis products. Inter-comparisons of heat flux products indicate that all of them exhibit similar space and time patterns. However, they also reveal significant differences in magnitude in some specific regions such as the western ocean boundaries during the Northern Hemisphere winter season, and the high southern latitudes. The differences tend to be closely related to large differences in surface wind speed and/or specific air humidity (for LHF) and to air and sea temperature differences (for SHF). Further quality investigations are performed through comprehensive comparisons with daily-averaged LHF and SHF estimated from moorings. The resulting statistics are used to assess the error of each OHF product. Consideration of error correlation between products and observations (e.g., by their assimilation) is also given. This reveals generally high noise variance in all products and a weak signal in common with in situ observations, with some products only slightly better than others. The OHF LHF and SHF products, and their associated error characteristics, are used to compute daily OHF multiproduct-ensemble (OHF/MPE) estimates of LHF and SHF over the ice-free global ocean on a 0.25° × 0.25° grid. The accuracy of this heat multiproduct, determined from comparisons with mooring data, is greater than for any individual product. It is used as a reference for the anomaly characterization of each individual OHF product.


Ocean Heat Flux, Latent heat flux, Sensible heat flux, Ocean heat content, Scatterometer, Surface wind, Specfic air humidity, OceanSites, Remotely sensed data

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Bentamy Abderrahim, Piolle Jean-Francois, Grouazel Antoine, Danielson R., Gulev S., Paul Frederic, Azelmat Hamza, Mathieu P. P., von schuckmann Karina, Sathyendranath S., Evers-King H., Esau I., Johannessen J. A., Clayson C. A., Pinker R. T., Grodsky S. A., Bourassa M., Smith S. R., Haines K., Valdivieso M., Merchant C. J., Chapron Bertrand, Anderson A., Hollmann R., Josey S. A. (2017). Review and assessment of latent and sensible heat flux accuracy over the global oceans. Remote Sensing Of Environment. 201. 196-218.,

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