The UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has developed new open-access software that brings together 10 different formulae for calculating air-sea surface exchanges (fluxes) into one package for the very first time.
The ocean and atmosphere are very closely linked by their continual exchange of heat, moisture and momentum. These air-sea exchanges, or fluxes, play a major role in the Earth’s climate system and are important in making future projections of climate change.
The new software makes it easier to test the impacts of choosing one formula over another on the processes that drive the circulation patterns in the atmosphere and ocean, which dominate weather and climate.
Measuring these air-sea fluxes directly is very expensive and difficult so instead scientists usually calculate them from other, easier to measure, meteorological parameters such as wind speed and air temperature. However, there are many different formulae available, and each gives a different estimate of the flux. Until now, scientists have had to either use code provided by the developer of a particular formula or write their own. This makes comparing the results from different formulae very time-consuming.
The new software will enable more comprehensive analyses of fluxes and will also make it easier to investigate the impact of choosing one formula rather than another on a wide range of physical processes, such as the development of storms over the ocean. Improved understanding of such processes may ultimately lead to more accurate climate models.
To read the full study published in Frontiers in Marine Science, click here.
To view the code and documentation, click here.