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Validation of NCEP and OAFlux air-sea heat fluxes using observations from a Black Pearl wave glider


Latent and sensible heat fluxes based on observations from a Black Pearl wave glider were estimated along the main stream of the Kuroshio Current from the East China Sea to the east coast of Japan, from December 2018 to January 2019. It is found that the data obtained by the wave glider were comparable to the sea surface temperature data from the Operational Sea Surface Temperature and Sea Ice Analysis and the wind field data from WindSat. The Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment 3.0 (COARE 3.0) algorithm was used to calculate the change in air-sea turbulent heat flux along the Kuroshio. The averaged latent heat flux (LHF) and sensible heat flux (SHF) were 235 W/m2 and 134 W/m2, respectively, and the values in the Kuroshio were significant larger than those in the East China Sea. The LHF and SHF obtained from Objectively Analyzed Air-Sea Fluxes for the Global Oceans (OAFlux) were closer to those measured by the wave glider than those obtained from National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis products. The maximum deviation occurred in the East China Sea and the recirculation zone of the Kuroshio (deviation of SHF >200 W/m2; deviation of LHF >400 W/m2). This indicates that the NCEP and OAFlux products have large biases in areas with complex circulation. The wave glider has great potential to observe air-sea heat fluxes with a complex circulation structure.

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The Black Pearl wave glider was provided by Ocean University of China and Tiangong University. We thank the NECP ( and OAFlux ( for providing data.


Foundation item: The National Key R&D Program of China under contract Nos 2017YFC0305904, 2017YFC0305902 and 2017YFC0305804; the National Natural Science Foundation of China under contract No. 44006020; the Guangdong Science and Technology Project under contract No. 2019A1515111044; the Shandong Provincial Key Research and Development Program (Major Scientific and Technological Innovation Project) under contract No. 2019JZZY020701; the Wenhai Program of Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (Qingdao) under contract No. 2017WHZZB0101; the CAS Key Technology Talent Program under contract No. 202012292205.

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Correspondence to Ying Chen.

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Mao, H., Sun, X., Qiu, C. et al. Validation of NCEP and OAFlux air-sea heat fluxes using observations from a Black Pearl wave glider. Acta Oceanol. Sin. 40, 167–175 (2021).

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Key words

  • wave glider
  • air-sea heat flux
  • Kuroshio
  • observation