WCRP Working Group Final Report on Surface Fluxes

March 21, 2008

After four years of collaboration, the Working Group on Surface Fluxes (WGSF) of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) has submitted a final report and vision for the future to the WCRPÕs Joint Scientific Committee (JSC). As chairman, scientist Chris Fairall of the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory led the group of 14 members who are from 8 different countries. The report identifies several topics for future directions such as the use of global energy closure to evaluate flux products; an emphasis on turbulent fluxes (including trace gases), which are lagging global estimates of radiative fluxes; and a new venture into surface fluxes over land – a topic of major significance for the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX). The report will be presented at the annual JSC meeting to be held March 31-April 4 in Arcachon-Bordeaux, France.

WGSF made major strides toward the goals formulated by the JSC by initiating air-sea flux validation activities, building new parameterizations and methodologies for producing air-sea flux fields, developing guidance materials for climate-quality flux observations, and assessing sources of errors and uncertainties in the air-sea flux products. The mandate of WGSF also covered ocean-atmosphere biogeochemical fluxes. Cooperation of WGSF and Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) in this area has been strong, and helped to bridge WCRP with the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) adding value to both programs. Progress has been achieved in our understanding of the mechanisms contributing to air-sea flux variability on different temporal and spatial scales. New flux products of higher accuracy and finer resolution have been developed and can now be used for all types of climate research.

Fluxes between the atmosphere and the surface of the Earth (ocean, ice and land, including vegetation) represent fundamental interactions within the climate and wider Earth system. Determination and understanding surface fluxes are prime concerns of the climate research community (including NOAA and WCRP): surface flux observations are critical for diagnosing coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models or estimating how effectively the ocean will remove CO2 from the atmosphere in the future. Surface flux parameterizations are used in all operational weather forecast models and climate models and play a key role in short-term climate forecasting where much of the variability is driven by air-sea interactions (e.g., El Niño).

Contact: Chris Fairall More Information: