Modeling Tropical Pacific Sea-Surface Temperature with Satellite-Derived Solar Radiative Forcing

Publication Type: 
Year of Publication: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Climate
Journal Date: 
ISBN Number: 
Accession Number: 

Two independent datasets for the solar radiation at the surface derived from satellites are compared. The data derived from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) is for the net solar radiation at the surface whereas the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) data is for the downward flux only and was corrected with a space- and time-varying albedo. The ISCCP net flux is at all times higher than the ERBE flux. The difference can be divided into an offset that decreases with latitude and another component that correlates with high tropical cloud cover. With this latter exception the two datasets provide spatial patterns of solar flux that are very similar.A tropical Pacific Ocean model is forced with these two datasets and observed climatological winds. The upward heat nux is parameterized taking into account separately the longwave radiative, latent, and sensible heat fluxes. Best fit values for the uncertain parameters are found using an optimization procedure that seeks to minimize the difference between model and observed SST by varying the parameters within a reasonable range of uncertainty. The SST field the model produces with the best fit parameters is the best the model can do. If the differences between the model and data are larger than can be accounted for by remaining uncertainties in the heat flux parameterization and forcing data then the ocean model must be held to be at fault. Using this method of analysis, a fundamental model fault is identified. Inadequate treatment of mixed layer/entrainment processes in upwelling regions of the eastern tropical Pacific leads to a large and seasonally varying error in the model SST. Elsewhere the model SST is insufficiently different from observed to be able to identify model errors. Some implications for ocean modeling of the seasonal cycle are discussed.


Qc226Times Cited:27Cited References Count:44