Core Science

Process Studies

Focused studies of key processes underpinning the climate system are critical for understanding the ocean's role in climate. Process studies provide quantitative understanding of the mechanisms controlling climate variability and change and provide observational data to evaluate and improve models. US CLIVAR has played a central role in process study design and implementation by establishing a set of best practices and helped identify key gaps in process understanding that are hindering our ability to predict climate variability and change. Here is a list of process studies that are of relevance to the US CLIVAR community. 

CLIMODE - CLIvar MOde Water Dynamic Experiment - CLIMODE is a project to study the dynamics of 'Eighteen Degree Water' (EDW), the subtropical mode water of the North Atlantic. This project stems from two years of CLIVAR planning (with advice and support of both the Atlantic and US CLIVAR committees) to develop an experiment to attack a key process that is poorly understood and poorly represented in ocean climate models - i.e. the treatment of convection, eddy and mixing processes in setting properties of subtropical mode waters, the associated air-sea interaction, and the exchange of fluid between the mixed layer and the upper ocean. CLIMODE will work closely with the Climate Process Team Emilie.

DIMES - Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean is an experiment designed to measure the diapycnal diffusivity and mesoscale isopycnal diffusivity at several levels and in several environments in the Antarctic Circumpoloar Current (ACC). The underlying motivation of DIMES is to understand the meridional overturning circulation of the global ocean.

DYNAMO - Dynamics of Madden Julian Oscillation is an observationally-based field campaign to study the conditions that intiate a Madden-Julian Oscillation in the Indian Ocean and improve modeling capabilities, with a focus on intraseasonal variability. The MJO is a tropical disturbance that propogates eastward around the globe and impacts precipitation, atmospheric circulation, and surface temperature. Studying the MJO is important to understanding weather and climate phenomena such as hurricanes, ENSO, and rainfall on the west coast of the US. 

EPIC - Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes in the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere System is a joint NOAA/NSF project to study air-ocean coupling in the inter-tropical convergence zone and stratus clouds associated with the equatorial cold tongue in the Eastern Pacific near the Galapagos Islands.

IASCLiP - Inter-Americas Study of Climate Processes is a specific subprogram of VAMOS, a WCRP/CLIVAR program focused on the climate of the Americas.  The main goal of IASCLiP is to promote, coordinate, and organize research activities that aim to improve understanding of climate and hydrological processes in the IntraAmericas Sea (IAS) and improve the ability to represent these processes in global climate models.  IASCLiP representatives Art Douglas and Vasu Misra recently presented a briefing to agency managers in Washington, DC.  The presentation slides and summary are available to download/view here: IASCLiP DC Presentation / IASCLiP DC Briefing Summary

KESS - Kuroshio Extension System Study is a collaborative effort between the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Hawaii. The purpose of KESS is to understand the processes that govern the variability of and the interaction between the Kuroshio Extension and its recirculation gyre.

NAME - North American Monsoon Experiment is a joint CLIVAR-GEWEX process study and the North American implementation of the WCRP/CLIVAR/VAMOS Program. Its overall aim is to determine the sources and limits of predictability of warm season precipiation over North America, with emphasis on times scales ranging from seasonal to interannual.

SALLJEX - South American Low Level Jet Experiment is the first of a series of experiments that will attempt, during a rigorous data gathering field phase, to monitor, quantify, and analyze low-level circulations that modulate regional rainfall.

SPURS - Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study is a research effort actively addressing the essential role of the ocean in the global water cycle using a series of cruises to explore the salinity maximum region in the Atlantic Ocean using a plethora of oceanographic equipment and technology, including salinity-sensing satellites. SPURS is also providing much-needed data for computer models to improve our basic understanding of the water cycle over the oceans and its ties to climate.

VOCALS - VAMOS Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study is an international CLIVAR program the major goal of which is to develop and promote scientific activities leading to improved understanding of the SEP coupled ocean-atmosphere-land system on diurnal to inter-annual timescales.