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TropFlux wind stresses over the tropical oceans: evaluation and comparison with other products

Abstract

In this paper, we present TropFlux wind stresses and evaluate them against observations along with other widely used daily air-sea momentum flux products (NCEP, NCEP2, ERA-I and QuikSCAT). TropFlux wind stresses are computed from the COARE v3.0 algorithm, using bias and amplitude corrected ERA-I input data and an additional climatological gustiness correction. The wind stress products are evaluated against dependent data from the TAO/TRITON, PIRATA and RAMA arrays and independent data from the OceanSITES mooring networks. Wind stress products are more consistent amongst each other than surface heat fluxes, suggesting that 10 m-winds are better constrained than near-surface thermodynamical parameters (2 m-humidity and temperature) and surface downward radiative fluxes. QuikSCAT overestimates wind stresses away from the equator, while NCEP and NCEP2 underestimate wind stresses, especially in the equatorial Pacific. QuikSCAT wind stress quality is strongly affected by rain under the Inter Tropical Convergence Zones. ERA-I and TropFlux display the best agreement with in situ data, with correlations >0.93 and rms-differences <0.012 Nm−2. TropFlux wind stresses exhibit a small, but consistent improvement (at all timescales and most locations) over ERA-I, with an overall 17 % reduction in root mean square error. ERA-I and TropFlux agree best with long-term mean zonal wind stress observations at equatorial latitudes. All products tend to underestimate the zonal wind stress seasonal cycle by ~20 % in the western and central equatorial Pacific. TropFlux and ERA-I equatorial zonal wind stresses have clearly the best phase agreement with mooring data at intraseasonal and interannual timescales (correlation of ~0.9 versus ~0.8 at best for any other product), with TropFlux correcting the ~13 % underestimation of ERA-I variance at both timescales. For example, TropFlux was the best at reproducing westerly wind bursts that played a key role in the 1997–1998 El Niño onset. Hence, we recommend the use of TropFlux for studies of equatorial ocean dynamics.

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Acknowledgments

The development of TropFlux product is the result of a joint research collaboration between National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR/NIO, Goa, India), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD, France), Institute Pierre et Simon Laplace (IPSL, Paris, France) and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (NOAA/PMEL, Seattle, Washington). BPK and VSNM thank Director, National Institute of Oceanography, India, for his keen interest in this study. The lead author is supported by a Senior Research Fellowship (SRF) from Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR, Govt. of India) and a 1-year research grant from Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD, France) and did part of this work whilst at Laboratoire d’Océanographie Expérimentation et Approches Numériques (LOCEAN, Paris). JV and ML are funded by Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and did this work while visiting National Institute of Oceanography (NIO, India). MJM is supported by NOAA. NOAA’s Climate Program Office provided support for the calculation of the TPR fluxes. We sincerely thank the providers of NCEP and NCEP2 re-analyses data (NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA), ERA-Interim (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, Reading, United Kingdom), QuikSCAT winds (CERSAT-IFREMER, Brest, France). The mooring data were made freely available by the TAO-PIRATA-RAMA (PMEL-NOAA, Seattle, USA) and OceanSITES international projects, and the national programs that contribute to them. Discussions with A. Beljars (ECMWF) on drag coefficient provided useful inputs. A. Bentamy (IFREMER, France) and W. Ebisuzaki (NOAA, USA) provided useful discussions on wind-wave corrections. Critical comments from two anonymous reviewers greatly helped to improve an earlier version of the manuscript and we acknowledge that. This is NIO contribution number 5204 and PMEL contribution number 3783.

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Praveen Kumar, B., Vialard, J., Lengaigne, M. et al. TropFlux wind stresses over the tropical oceans: evaluation and comparison with other products. Clim Dyn 40, 2049–2071 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-012-1455-4

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Keywords

  • TropFlux
  • Tropics
  • Air-sea momentum fluxes
  • Wind stress products validation