© The Author(s), 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Heimbach, P., Fukumori, I., Hills, C. N., Ponte, R. M., Stammer, D., Wunsch, C., Campin, J., Cornuelle, B., Fenty, I., Forget, G., Koehl, A., Mazloff, M., Menemenlis, D., Nguyen, A. T., Piecuch, C., Trossman, D., Verdy, A., Wang, O., & Zhang, H. Putting it all together: Adding value to the global ocean and climate observing systems with complete self-consistent ocean state and parameter estimates. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6 (2019):55, doi:10.3389/fmars.2019.00055.
In 1999, the consortium on Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO) set out to synthesize the hydrographic data collected by the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the satellite sea surface height measurements into a complete and coherent description of the ocean, afforded by an ocean general circulation model. Twenty years later, the versatility of ECCO's estimation framework enables the production of global and regional ocean and sea-ice state estimates, that incorporate not only the initial suite of data and its successors, but nearly all data streams available today. New observations include measurements from Argo floats, marine mammal-based hydrography, satellite retrievals of ocean bottom pressure and sea surface salinity, as well as ice-tethered profiled data in polar regions. The framework also produces improved estimates of uncertain inputs, including initial conditions, surface atmospheric state variables, and mixing parameters. The freely available state estimates and related efforts are property-conserving, allowing closed budget calculations that are a requisite to detect, quantify, and understand the evolution of climate-relevant signals, as mandated by the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) protocol. The solutions can be reproduced by users through provision of the underlying modeling and assimilation machinery. Regional efforts have spun off that offer increased spatial resolution to better resolve relevant processes. Emerging foci of ECCO are on a global sea level changes, in particular contributions from polar ice sheets, and the increased use of biogeochemical and ecosystem data to constrain global cycles of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. Challenges in the coming decade include provision of uncertainties, informing observing system design, globally increased resolution, and moving toward a coupled Earth system estimation with consistent momentum, heat and freshwater fluxes between the ocean, atmosphere, cryosphere and land.
Major support for ECCO is provided by NASA's Physical Oceanography program via a contract to JPL/Caltech, with additional support through NASA's Modeling, Analysis and Prediction program, the Cryosphere Science program, and the Computational Modeling and Cyberinfrastructure program. Supplemental funding was obtained throughout the years via standard grants to individual team members from NSF, NOAA, and ONR.
global ocean inverse modeling
optimal state and parameter estimation
coupled Earth system data assimilation
global ocean circulation
Woods Hole Open Access Server