Science Meetings

Rain Impact Model Assessment of Near-Surface Salinity Stratification Following Rainfall
Jones, L., Jacob, M.M., Asher, W., Drushka, K., and Santos-Garcia, A. (16-Dec-16)

Rainfall over oceans produces a layer of fresher surface water, which can have a significant effect on the exchanges between the surface and the bulk mixed layer and also on satellite/in-situ comparisons. For satellite sea surface salinity (SSS) measurements, the standard is the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM), but there is a significant difference between the remote sensing sampling depth of ~ 0.01 m and the typical range of 5-10 m of in-situ instruments. Under normal conditions the upper layer of the ocean is well mixed and there is uniform salinity; however, under rainy conditions, there is a dilution of the near-surface salinity that mixes downward by diffusion and by mechanical mixing (gravity waves/wind speed). This significantly modifies the salinity gradient in the upper 1-2 m of the ocean, but these transient salinity stratifications dissipate in a few hours, and the upper layer becomes well mixed at a slightly fresher salinity. Based upon research conducted within the NASA/CONAE Aquarius/SAC-D mission, a rain impact model (RIM) was developed to estimate the change in SSS due to rainfall near the time of the satellite observation, with the objective to identify the probability of salinity stratification. RIM uses HYCOM (which does not include the short-term rain effects) and a NOAA global rainfall product CMORPH to model changes in the near-surface salinity profile in 0.5 h increments. Based upon SPURS-2 experimental near-surface salinity measurements with rain, this paper introduces a term in the RIM model that accounts for the effect of wind speed in the mechanical mixing, which translates into a dynamic vertical diffusivity; whereby a Generalized Ocean Turbulence Model (GOTM) is used to investigate the response to rain events of the upper few meters of the ocean. The objective is to determine how rain and wind forcing control the thickness, stratification strength, and lifetime of fresh lenses and to quantify the impacts of rain-formed fresh lenses on the fresh bias in satellite retrievals of salinity. Results will be presented of comparisons of RIM measurements at depth of a few meters with measurements from in-situ salinity instruments. Also, analytical results will be shown, which assess the accuracy of RIM salinity profiles under a variety of rain rate, wind/wave conditions.