Sea surface salinity subfootprint variability from a global high-resolution model

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Frederick M Bingham , Susannah Brodnitz , Severine Fournier , Karly Ulfsax, Akiko Hayashi, Hong Zhang


Subfootprint variability (SFV) is variability at a spatial scale smaller than the footprint of a sat-ellite, and cannot be resolved by satellite observations. It is important to quantify and understand as it contributes to the error budget for satellite data. The purpose of this study is to estimate the SFV for sea surface salinity (SSS) satellite observations. This is done using a high-resolution (1/48°) numerical model, the MITgcm, from which one year of output has recently become availa-ble. SFV, defined as the weighted standard deviation of SSS within the satellite footprint, was computed from the model for a 2°X2° grid of points for the one model year. We present maps of SFV for 40 and 100 km footprint size, display histograms of its distribution for a range of foot-print sizes and quantify its seasonality. At 100 km (40 km) footprint size, SFV has a mode of 0.06 (0.04). It is found to vary strongly by location and season. It has larger values in western bound-ary and eastern equatorial regions, and a few other areas. SFV has strong variability throughout the year, with generally largest values in the fall season. We also quantify representation error, the degree of mismatch between random samples within a footprint and the footprint average. Our estimates of SFV and representation error can be used in understanding errors in satellite obser-vation of SSS.





subfootprint variability, sea surface salinity


Published: 2021-08-20 03:13

Last Updated: 2021-11-22 13:51

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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