NOTE: This website belongs to U. Send's group. Our focus is on moorings and bottom landers. See our link section for the other components of CORC.

Objective

The project goal is to develop, and demonstrate operation of, an observing system that describes the key features of ocean boundary currents.

Rationale

Ocean boundary currents are fast, transport large amounts of water and heat, and are subject to variability on many time scales. Their relevance to society comes through the effect they have on climate and how they are in turn shaped by climate, as well as through the ecosystems they support. Yet there is no national or international observing system that can capture these systems adequately. A vision paper with further details has been presented at the OceanObs'09 conference and proposes an observing strategy combining multiple technologies at key locations. This CORC project is a step towards implementation of such a system.

Locations

CORC is making observations in two boundary current systems: the California Current in the Pacific off of North America, and the New Guinea Undercurrent in the western tropical Pacific, specifically the Solomon Sea.

The California Current flows from the north to the south along the west coast of the US. It is an eastern boundary current with an upwelling regime that brings nutrient-rich waters to the surface, which in turn supports a complex ecosystem and a large fishing industry. Both the current and the ecosystem are known to undergo fluctuations on interannual to decadal time scales, which motivates the efforts made by the project. CORC observations are made in the area off Southern California and are analyzed together with data from other projects operating in the area (e.g. CalCOFI, CCE).

The New Guinea Undercurrent flows from the southeast to the northwest through the Solomon Sea. It is a western boundary current that transports large amounts of heat and water into the warmest areas of the tropical Pacific. CORC observations are motivated by the interplay between this current and El Niño.

Technology

CORC is using the following observing platforms: moorings, bottom landers, gliders, and XBT. A data-assimilating numerical simulation is used to merge these data, as well as other publicly available data, into a combined state estimate.

This project is made possible with funding from the NOAA Climate Observation Division (COD).

Artistic impression of a CORC glider passing by moorings and bottom landers and relaying data from these to shore via satellite communications. The underwater part of this communication path works acoustically and was developed by CORC to make the mooring data available in near real-time.