Research Title: World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE)
Funding Level (millions of dollars):
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Subcommittee (100%) NSTC Committee on Fundamental Science
(b) Environmental Issue: Climate Change(70%) Natural Variability (30%)
(c) Research Activity: System Structure and Function: Observe (70%), Understand (20%), Predict (10%)
Ocean Sciences Division
NSF, Physical Oceanography Program
OCE/NSF, Room 725
4201 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22230
Point of Contact:
The principal goals of WOCE are to understand the global ocean circulation well enough to model its present state and predict its evolution and relate them to long-term climate change, and to provide a scientifically sound strategy for continued monitoring of the ocean following its conclusion. Knowledge of ocean circulation is critical to climate, as well as to other oceanographic programs, since it controls the transports of heat and other biological and chemical constituents.
WOCE consists of three core programs: 1. Global Description; 2. Southern Ocean; and 3. Gyre Dynamics and Process Studies. WOCE field programs began formally in 1990, and will continue through 1997. Under Core 1, a 30-year time series station is being continued in the Atlantic, and a second one in the Pacific has been initiated, both in collaboration with JGOFS. A one-time hydrographic description of the world ocean is underway, with the Pacific scheduled for completion in 1994. An intensive study of the Indian Ocean in 1994-96 is being coordinated with a NOAA survey and JGOFS, and an Arabian Sea Cooling experiment (ONR), with major contributions from five countries. A planning meeting, held in October, 1993, will began planning for the North Atlantic. A joint program involving NOAA/ACCP and WOCE, called the Atlantic Circulation and Climate Experiment (ACCE) is currently under review, and expected to start in late 1996. A major modeling study of the Atlantic circulation was successfully completed, and studies of model physics and second phase GCM calculations continue. Under Core-3, studies of upper and intermediate ocean processes in the North Atlantic, with joint support from ONR, and with German, Canadian and UK participation, are providing new insight on the role of mixing in the overall transport of heat. In the South Atlantic, WOCE investigators have discovered a convergence of the deep flow which will certainly shed light on the age and residence time of water in the deep basin. Under Core-2, modest efforts to monitor the circulation of the circumpolar current have been initiated and some experiments in the Weddell Gyre have been supported by OPP. However, primary WOCE Core-2 plans remain uncommitted.
In the U.S., NSF has the lead for overall coordination and funding of WOCE. NOAA has responsibility for a portion of the hydrographic program with specific emphasis on chemical tracers and contributed to studies of Indonesian through-flow. ONR is making significant contributions to process studies. DOE supports CO-2 measurements in the ocean and NASA has responsibility for satellite observations and some large-scale modeling. Internationally, WOCE is a key element of the WCRP, with support from IOC, SCOR, WMO, and ICSU, with science oversight provided by the CCCO (now merged with JSC), and JSC, through an international Science Steering Group (SSG). The first international scientific conference on WOCE was held in Paris in 1988 at which over 40 countries expressed their support for the program. Under IOC and WMO, an Intergovernmental WOCE Panel (IWP) was established to garner governmental commitments for WOCE. An international WOCE Program Office (IPO) was established at IOS in Wormley, UK to support planning and implementation of international aspects of the program. Many countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Australia and the Former Soviet Union are contributing to the various science elements of WOCE.
Placement of additional drifting instrument buoys in Southern, Indian, and South Atlantic oceans by the end of 1995; (2) completion of the hydrographic survey of the Pacific Ocean and initiation of the Indian and Southern ocean surveys by the end of 1995; (3) completion of the Indian ocean component of the global calculation of meridional heat flux by the end of 1996 and (4) increased accuracy and precision in ocean circulation models and better linkage with global climate models to more accurately predict long-term climate change.
Short and long-term payoffs include improved working relations with maritime nations, especially the Indian Ocean countries. Also, a better assessment and understanding of the ocean effects on climate predictability should be available within 2-3 years. This acquired knowledge is needed to design and build an effective GOOS. The long-term policy payoff is a better understanding of the deep ocean's role in the response of climate systems to natural and anthropogenic changes, on decadal to centennial time scales, by running various scenarios in general circulation models. This information can then be fed into ecological models