Assimilating synthetic Biogeochemical-Argo and ocean colour observations into a global ocean model to inform observing system design

A set of observing system simulation experiments was performed. This assessed the impact on global ocean biogeochemical reanalyses of assimilating chlorophyll from remotely sensed ocean colour and in situ observations of chlorophyll, nitrate, oxygen, and pH from a proposed array of Biogeochemical-Argo (BGC-Argo) floats. Two potential BGC-Argo array distributions were tested: one for which biogeochemical sensors are placed on all current Argo floats and one for which biogeochemical sensors are placed on a quarter of current Argo floats. Assimilating BGC-Argo data greatly improved model results throughout the water column. This included surface partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2), which is an important output of reanalyses. In terms of surface chlorophyll, assimilating ocean colour effectively constrained the model, with BGC-Argo providing no added benefit at the global scale. The vertical distribution of chlorophyll was improved by assimilating BGC-Argo data. Both BGC-Argo array distributions gave benefits, with greater improvements seen with more observations. From the point of view of ocean reanalysis, it is recommended to proceed with development of BGC-Argo as a priority. The proposed array of 1000 floats will lead to clear improvements in reanalyses, with a larger array likely to bring further benefits. The ocean colour satellite observing system should also be maintained, as ocean colour and BGC-Argo will provide complementary benefits.

Ford D., 2021. Assimilating synthetic Biogeochemical-Argo and ocean colour observations into a global ocean model to inform observing system design. Biogeosciences 18: 509–534. doi: 10.5194/bg-18-509-2021. Article.

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