Observational Data Sets: Gaps and Requirements

Observations are key to the activities of the National Partnership for Ocean Prediction.

They are required to create analyses of the ocean state as the starting point of predictions and hindcasts, to validate those predictions and to produce reanalyses.

There are a complex range of data types available: in situ observations of the physical (temperature, salinity, currents) and biogeochemical properties of the ocean, and properties retrieved from satellite data (sea surface height, temperature, salinity etc.)

It is essential that all these observations are made available with the spatial and temporal resolution, accuracy and timeliness that allow them to be useful both now and for future applications.

An objective of this networking group is to understand what these requirements are and, by comparing these to the current and planned observing system, identify gaps and highlight these to observation providers and to our partners.

A related activity is to collate information on the utility of the current observing system. Important datasets such as the Argo array of profiling floats require continuous maintenance and funding. It is therefore necessary to be able to make authoritative statements based on actual statistics about the importance of these datasets if we wish them to continue to receive funding. A second objective is therefore to agree a set of metrics that can be produced and collated automatically to provide this evidence.

Finally, no observations are perfect. At times there will be problems found with particular data types or individual platforms. Also, there may be observational datasets that are available but are not widely known/easy to obtain. This networking group should provide a method to disseminate information about observations between partners.

Chairs: Chris Banks and Matthew Palmer