Related Research Areas
Climate Variability & Change, Water & Energy Cycles

Although satellite remote sensing measurements are commonly used in oceanographic research, very few of these studies address deep ocean processes such as deep ocean convection (DOC) as it relates to thermohaline circulation. The major limitation of using remote sensing measurements for studying DOC directly results from their poor temporal and spatial resolution, with respect to the characteristic features of deep water convection. However, there are opportunities to detect characteristics of DOC, namely features associated with prior and post deep water formation, which have much larger spatial and longer time scales compared to the convective plumes. Thus, the proposed research will focus on detecting and monitoring the preconditioned flow and lateral exchange features resulting from prior and post deep convection, respectively. Specifically, using several sources of data, we will create a composite data set of heat and vapor exchange, horizontal and vertical flow fields, and subsurface thermal structure that will enable us to analyze features associated with DOC. Accordingly, the proposed research will allow us to answer the following scientific questions: (1) Can we correctly identify regions associated with preconditioning and lateral exchange prior and post deep convection? (2) Can we monitor the subsurface thermal structure using satellite multi-sensor data, (3) Can we determine correctly the deep water formation rates and any relationship between convection intensity, geographic location of chimneys and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)? Before applying the proposed methods of identifying and studying DOC to observational data, we first test them using the outputs of eddy-resolving numerical models. The results of our preliminary feasibility tests are very promising and encouraging, and provide a strong motivation for pursuing the proposed research. The improved understanding of DOC results from this study would benefit the analysis of Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) and its relation to DOC and thus allow us to better access its direct/indirect impact on climate change and help to detect the early onset of rapid climate change. The essential merit of the proposal is the coherent design of a program that utilizes satellite multi-sensor data sources in developing observational and research tools, which is stated in the 2008 NNH08ZDA001N-PO Announcement. As a result, this and future proposals will contribute to enhancing NASA’s Strategic Goal 3.

Project PI: Xiao-Hai Yan/University of Delaware

University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment Center for Remote Sensing (CRS) 209 Robinson Hall

Phone: 302-831-3694



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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 16, 2010


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