Mean and Variability of the WHOI Daily Latent and Sensible Heat Fluxes at In Situ Flux Measurement Sites in the Atlantic Ocean* Academic Article uri icon


  • Daily latent and sensible heat fluxes for the Atlantic Ocean from 1988 to 1999 with 18 3 18 resolution have been recently developed at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) by using a variational object analysis approach. The present study evaluated the degree of improvement made by the WHOI analysis using in situ buoy/ship measurements as verification data. The measurements were taken from the following field experiments: the five-buoy Subduction Experiment in the eastern subtropical North Atlantic, three coastal field programs in the western Atlantic, two winter cruises by R/V Knorr from the Labrador Sea Deep Convection Experiment, and the Pilot Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA). The differences between the observed and the WHOI-analyzed fluxes and surface meteorological variables were quantified. Comparisons with the outputs from two numerical weather prediction (NWP) models were also conducted. The mean and daily variability of the latent and sensible heat fluxes from the WHOI analysis are an improvement over the NWP fluxes at all of the measurement sites. The improved flux representation is due to the use of not only a better flux algorithm but also the improved estimates for flux-related variables. The mean differences from the observations in latent heat flux and sensible heat flux, respectively, range from 2.9 (3% of the corresponding mean measurement value) and 1.0 W m(-2) (13%) at the Subduction Experiment site, to 11.9 (13%) and 0.7 W m(-2) (11%) across the PIRATA array, to 15.9 (20%) and 10.5 W m(-2) (34%) at the coastal buoy sites, to 8.7 (7%) and 9.7 W m(-2) (6%) along the Knorr cruise tracks. The study also suggests that further improvement in the accuracy of latent and sensible heat fluxes will depend on the availability of high-quality SST observations and improved representation/observations of air humidity in the tropical Atlantic.

publication date

  • June 2004