Using synthetic float capabilities in E3SMv2 to assess spatio-temporal variability in ocean physics and biogeochemistry
Abstract. Since their advent over two decades ago, autonomous Argo floats have revolutionized the field of oceanography, and more recently, the addition of biogeochemical and biological sensors to these floats has greatly improved our understanding of carbon, nutrient, and oxygen cycling in the ocean. While Argo floats offer unprecedented horizontal, vertical, and temporal coverage of the global ocean, uncertainties remain about whether Argo sampling frequency and density capture the true spatio-temporal variability of physical, biogeochemical, and biological properties. As the true distributions of, e.g., temperature or oxygen are unknown, these uncertainties remain difficult to address with Argo floats alone. Numerical models with synthetic observing systems offer one potential avenue to address these uncertainties. Here, we implement synthetic biogeochemical Argo floats into the Energy Exascale Earth System Model version 2 (E3SMv2). Since the synthetic floats sample the model fields at model run time, the end-user defines the sampling protocol ahead of any model simulation, including the number and distribution of synthetic floats to be deployed, their sampling frequency, and the prognostic or diagnostic model fields to be sampled. Using a six-year proof-of-concept simulation, we illustrate the utility of the synthetic floats in different case studies. In particular, we quantify the impact of i) sampling density on the float-derived detection of deep-ocean change in temperature or oxygen and on float-derived estimates of phytoplankton phenology, ii) sampling frequency and sea-ice cover on float trajectory lengths and hence float-derived estimates of current velocities, and iii) short-term variability in ecosystem stressors on estimates of seasonal variability.
Status: open (until 29 Feb 2024)
Model code and software
Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SMv2) code with Argo float simulator https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10094348
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