Tropical Atlantic Observing System Review

Tropical Atlantic Observing System Review


1. Rationale, motivation and justification, including relevance to CLIVAR themes and JSC cross cutting topics, and any cross-panel/WG links and interactions involved

The tropical Atlantic observing system was last reviewed in 2006 by CLIVAR (Climate and Ocean: Variability, Predictability and Change) and GCOS-GOOS-WCRP through the OOPC (Ocean Observations Panel for Climate) with a primary focus on PIRATA (Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic). Since then, the CLIVAR Tropical Atlantic Climate Experiment (TACE) has been completed and more recently the EU program Enhancing Prediction of Tropical Atlantic Climate and its Impacts (PREFACE), scheduled for 2013-2017, is nearing completion. Scientific priorities and observational technologies have evolved since 2006 and in parallel the observing system has evolved. For example, Argo is now fully developed and has been operating successfully for ten years. PIRATA has also expanded to new sites and has enhanced its measurement suite with higher vertical resolution in the mixed layer, and new CO2 and O2 measurements. It is therefore timely to systematically review the requirements for sustained observations in the tropical Atlantic, and to critically review the design of the sustained observing system in order to take advantage of what has been learned to date, to collectively identify new opportunities to build on past accomplishments, and to explore the possibility for expanded interdisciplinary initiatives with other communities, e.g. in biogeochemistry. 

The proposed Tropical Atlantic Observing System (TAOS) review will be organised by the CLIVAR Atlantic Region Panel (ARP) and in close cooperation with the PIRATA consortium. CLIVAR ARP will take the lead and coordinate the review, evaluate scientific progress since the last review, and recommend actions to advance sustained observing efforts in the tropical Atlantic. ARP will seek OOPC’s endorsement for the review, and will try to involve the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project (IOCCP) and/or the Integrated Marine Biosphere Research Program (IMBeR) and Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS), among others, as key partners as well. The review will complement other reviews focusing on different elements of the Atlantic observing system that will take place in the next several years (for example, RAPID-AMOC and OSNAP). It will benefit from parallel efforts being carried out in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, namely the Tropical Pacific Observing System TPOS 2020 project, and the Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS) review.  Results of the TAOS review could also feed into the AtlantOS design strategy that is currently being formulated in advance of the OceanObs’19 conference.

The review will be forward looking and strategic, and focus on possible changes to the observing system in the next decade. It will consider new observing technologies, observing system requirements from the user community (e.g. weather and climate forecast), and observational products that will be delivered. The review will be guided by the framework for ocean observing and make recommendations toward an adequate governing mechanism.  The review will be comprehensive across all relevant observing system networks, including satellite observations, but with the focus primarily on the in situ observing system, and will consider atmospheric parameters (e.g., winds, surface fluxes) as well as aerosols, biogeochemistry and biology within the framework of a single integrated observing system. 


2. Terms of Reference

  1. Review and articulate the existing and anticipated future drivers for the Tropical Atlantic Observing System, encompassing research, operational, and societal applications. Key applications to be considered include: research on tropical Atlantic circulation and variability, coupled atmosphere-ocean variability and change, climate monitoring, modelling and forecasting (climate, ocean, seasonal to decadal and weather prediction), biogeochemistry, and fisheries.
  2. Evaluate (review/assess/prioritize) existing and potential requirements for sustained observations of essential ocean variables (EOVs) in the tropical Atlantic Ocean (extending from 25°N to 25°S) - in connection with TPOS2020 and IndOOS - and update them to reflect new knowledge and identified needs for scientific and societal applications.
  3. Evaluate the adequacy of existing observing strategies to deliver requirements for variables, and characterize their impacts. Characterize how in situ (e.g., PIRATA, Argo, drifters, and other data) and remote sensing observing systems are contributing to meet these scientific and functional requirements, and identify gaps, inefficiencies, and vulnerabilities.
  4. Provide recommendations on the current suite and configuration of observing systems to enhance their resilience and robustness in order to produce data in the most cost-efficient and sustainable manner within the anticipated envelope of capability and resources.
  5. Identify potential enhancement or reconfiguration of the sustained observing system suite to address gaps and new requirements.
  6. Evaluate requirements for delivery of data, and derived products and information, in real time and delayed mode (e.g., availability, quality, latency, integration/interoperability); evaluate the existing data systems for fitness for purpose.
  7. Assess readiness of new technologies, their potential impact and feasibility in addressing requirements, and their potential to contribute towards addressing gaps, improving robustness/resilience, and/or lowering costs per observation in the tropical Atlantic Ocean region; recommend new technologies with greatest potential to meet critical requirements and suggest approaches to improve the readiness for inclusion in the sustained observing system.
  8. Highlight the impacts of the tropical Atlantic observing system on the delivery of information/services of societal importance and relevance. Develop a report of the first TAOS Workshop, with recommendations on the development of a process for the ongoing evaluation of the observing system.

3. Anticipated outcomes (deliverables):

A white paper that will document the main findings of the tropical Atlantic observing system review will be prepared before OceanObs’19. The white paper should provide the scientific guidelines on future development of tropical Atlantic Observing System, by setting priorities as well as mindful resource trade-offs.

Besides the white paper, synthetic reports specified for AtlantOS or other potential contributors to the tropical Atlantic Observing System could also be provided upon request.

Articles to highlight the major outcome of the review could be prepared for Eos, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, CLIVAR Exchanges, and/or US CLIVAR Variations, etc.


4. Timelines
Feb. 2018    Kick-off workshop
Dec. 2018    First Draft of white paper
Jun. 2019    Final draft of white paper and send to review committee for comments
Sep. 2019    Wrap-up workshop


5. Review Committee

Name Affiliation Country
William Johns (Chair) RSMAS/MPO, University of Miami USA
Sabrina Speich Laboratoire of Météorologie Dynamique, IPSL  France
Jeff Knight Met Office UK
Moacyr Araujo Universidade Federal de Pernambuco Brazil
Katherine Hill GCOS-GOOS Scientific Officer, WMO Swizerland
Martin Visbeck GEOMAR Germany
Toste Tanhua GEOMAR Germany
Carol Robinson University of East Anglia UK
Neville Smith Private Consultant Australia
Yochanan Kushnir Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) USA
Magdalena Balmaseda European Center For Medium Range Weather Forecasts, Predictability Section, Research Department UK
Scott Stripling NOAA - US National Hurricane Center USA
Abderrahim Bentamy Institut Francais de Recherche Pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (Ifremer) France
Ping Chang Texas A&M University USA
Philippe Dandin Météo France France
Noel Keenlyside University of Bergen Norway