On the assessment of Argo float trajectory assimilation in the Mediterranean Forecasting System

Nilsson, Jenny; Dobricic, Srdjan; Pinardi, Nadia; Taillandier, Vincent; Poulain, Pierre-Marie
October 2011
Ocean Dynamics;Oct2011, Vol. 61 Issue 10, p1475
Academic Journal
The Mediterranean Forecasting System (MFS) has been operational for a decade, and is continuously providing forecasts and analyses for the region. These forecasts comprise local- and basin-scale information of the environmental state of the sea and can be useful for tracking oil spills and supporting search-and-rescue missions. Data assimilation is a widely used method to improve the forecast skill of operational models and, in this study, the three-dimensional variational (OceanVar) scheme has been extended to include Argo float trajectories, with the objective of constraining and ameliorating the numerical output primarily in terms of the intermediate velocity fields at 350 m depth. When adding new datasets, it is furthermore crucial to ensure that the extended OceanVar scheme does not decrease the performance of the assimilation of other observations, e.g., sea-level anomalies, temperature, and salinity. Numerical experiments were undertaken for a 3-year period (2005-2007), and it was concluded that the Argo float trajectory assimilation improves the quality of the forecasted trajectories with ~15%, thus, increasing the realism of the model. Furthermore, the MFS proved to maintain the forecast quality of the sea-surface height and mass fields after the extended assimilation scheme had been introduced. A comparison between the modeled velocity fields and independent surface drifter observations suggested that assimilating trajectories at intermediate depth could yield improved forecasts of the upper ocean currents.


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