Rain Rate from IMERG as a Predictor for Salinity Stratification in the Upper Meter of the Ocean during SPURS-2 Rain Events
[16-Dec-2016] Thompson, E.J., Asher, W., Drushka, K., Schanze, J., Jessup, A.T., and Clark, D.
Presented at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting
Rain can produce a lens of fresher and generally colder, less dense water at the ocean surface. These stable surface layers concentrate heat, freshwater, and momentum into a thin layer and reduce the exchange of these properties between the surface layer and deeper water, which can impact regional freshwater storage and air-sea fluxes of heat and moisture. Although in situ observations have shown that fresh lenses are common in the presence of rain, attempts to correlate the magnitude and lifetime of the surface freshening with rain rate using field data have not produced a definitive relationship. The reasons for this are most likely that in situ rain rate measurements represent the freshwater flux to the ocean surface at a single point in space and time, whereas the fresh lens is the result of the integrated rainfall over time and space, convoluted with the evolution of the fresh lens. Therefore, it is possible that integrated, upstream rainfall estimates might provide a better correlate for the presence of fresh lenses than in situ measurements at a point. This hindcast study seeks to determine the utility of NASA GPM IMERG satellite measurements of rain relative to in situ collocated rain measurements in predicting the occurrence and duration of 0-1 m freshwater stabilization of the ocean. Vertical gradients of temperature, salinity, and density between the surface and at most a few meters were measured using towed profilers and underway sampling during the 2016 SPURS-2 experiment conducted in the tropical east Pacific Ocean. Local wind speed was also measured and taken into account. These measurements were used to determine whether local or integrated upstream precipitation metrics could better predict the occurrence of rain-generated lenses of fresher water at the ocean surface and whether the strength and duration of rain events was correlated with the observed lifetime of fresh lenses.