ESSIC Faculty Research Assistant Mathew Biddle worked as part of a team run by NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) Ocean Climate Laboratory (OCL) that tracked temperature and salinity in the Greenland, Iceland and Norwegian Seas (GINS). The region is considered a gateway between the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.
GINS has become an important research area for climatologists, given its importance as a source of natural resources such as fisheries and oil.
The OCL team tracked salinity and average temperatures on different depth levels on a long-term, annual, seasonal and monthly basis in the GINS region.
Biddle’s role in the project was to flag any physical data that was too specific to a localized area, and not representative enough of the general interactions and circulation patterns seen in the GINS region.
“The data was never altered or removed, simply marked as such,” Biddle said.
Salinity and temperature are key indicators to track, since they are the foundations for measuring physical oceanography. The two factors allow scientists to determine the density of water, and therefore how much heat can be stored in that particular section of water. Tracking temperature and salinity can also help determine if water temperature is changing over time.
“Heat fluxes, evaporation, rain, river in flow, and freezing and melting of sea ice all influence the distribution of temperature and salinity at the ocean's surface,” Biddle said.
This new focus on regional climatology is based on temperature and salinity observations tracked over a span of over one hundred years in the region. The increased emphasis on studying the region has produced new data that wasn’t previously attainable with the available technology.
The Ocean Climate Lab at the National Oceanographic Data Center has been collecting data on the world’s oceans to create the World Ocean Atlas. The GINS climatology field was the first ever “high resolution” field ever attempted, made possible by the large amount of data available from the region. The team hopes to produce other high-resolution fields for other scientists to use in their research.
Concluded NODC OCL regional projects include those in the Gulf of Mexico, East Asian Seas, and Arctic, with plans to engage the Northwest region of the Atlantic Ocean next.