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Ramonville-Saint-Agne, France

Ayoub N.K.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Lucas M.,CLS Collecte Localisation Satellites | De Mey P.,French National Center for Scientific Research
Journal of Marine Systems | Year: 2015

This study aims to explore the robustness of the mixed-layer heat budget as estimated from an eddy-permitting model with respect to uncertainties in atmospheric forcing. We illustrate how statistics from an ensemble can be used in a first step towards the calculation of error bars of any simulated quantity, such as the mixed-layer heat budget. The statistics from an ensemble of 33 simulations are derived in order to infer information on the model errors space and time variability of the main terms of the heat budget. The ensemble is generated by perturbing the wind forcing and the incoming solar radiation as uncertainties on these fields are expected to be a main source of errors for the surface layer representation in the model at monthly to seasonal scales. We focus on the mixed-layer in the Gulf Stream system during the deepening period (Sept.-March). The results indicate that large errors are expected at the Gulf Stream front location and just north of it. The largest errors are found on the zonal and meridional advection and vertical diffusion terms: they can locally reach values that are larger than the terms themselves. We observe a rapid increase with time of the errors for both these terms. The error growth is mainly due to the mesoscale decorrelation. The impact of wind errors on southward Ekman transport and surface turbulence generates uncertainties on the vertical diffusion term just north of the Gulf Stream front.We work with an eddy-permitting configuration similar to those used in ocean reanalysis projects (e.g. SODA, and GLORYS). Our results suggest that for such configurations, at monthly to seasonal time scales, the impact of uncertainties in the atmospheric forcing is weak on the mixed-layer cooling but very large on the zonal and meridional advection and vertical diffusion heat budget terms. In consequence, the estimate of these quantities from ocean reanalyses is not robust with respect to the atmospheric forcing and should be provided with error bars. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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