Day 4

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Paper title Arctic sea surface temperatures - importance, challenges and solutions
  1. Andrew Harris Univ. Maryland, USA Speaker
Form of presentation Poster
  • A8. Ocean
    • A8.07 Oceanographic Change of the Arctic Ocean From Space
Abstract text Traditional global sea surface temperature (SST) analyses have often struggled in high-latitude regions. The challenges that exist are numerous (sea-ice cover, cloud, perpetual dark, perpetual sunlight, insufficient in situ for validation & bias correction, anomalous atmospheric conditions). In this presentation, we outline the prospects for a new high-resolution sea surface temperature analysis specifically for the Arctic region. There are many reasons why such a product is desirable now. Firstly, the Arctic region is anticipated to be the most sensitive to climatic change, and has already experienced a number of substantially anomalous years. Sea ice cover has been decreasing, and yet is still highly variable. The development and progression of the polar front has a major influence on mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere weather patterns (storm tracks, cold air outbreaks, etc.). Accurate knowledge of high-latitude sea surface temperature is crucial for the prediction of sea ice growth and decay, along with estimation of air-sea fluxes, ecological processes and monitoring of overall conditions. Many research areas within the Arctic section of this symposium will benefit from such a dataset.

An equally important aspect of this presentation is the illustration of limitations in existing SST products in the Arctic region. This is particularly important for end-users who may be utilizing products while being largely unaware of the issues. The biggest challenge is ensuring that the available data are fully exploited, i.e. that potentially valid observations are excluded due to quality control (cloud screening, etc.) procedures that have not been optimized for the Arctic region. We use matches with high-latitude saildrone data to explore the impact of current cloud detection schemes and indicate how improvements can be made. Similarly, ice masking may deprive users of valuable observations in the marginal ice zone. Other issues we explore include the correction for atmospheric effects in Arctic atmospheres, which are out-of-family compared with lower latitude oceans where algorithms have been developed and validated. In this regard, we show that the dual-view capabilities of the Sentinel-3 SLSTR instrument can provide a valuable reference. The need for significantly different approaches to quality control and assimilation are explained, along with the need for proxy observations under sea ice. The interdependence of these observation types and models requires a coordinated approach in order to achieve success.