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Weighing the ocean: Using a single mooring to measure changes in the mass of the ocean
Hughes, C.W.; Tamisiea, M.E.; Bingham, R.J.; Williams, J. (2012). Weighing the ocean: Using a single mooring to measure changes in the mass of the ocean. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39(L17602): 6 pp.
In: Geophysical Research Letters. American Geophysical Union: Washington. ISSN 0094-8276, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Hughes, C.W.
  • Tamisiea, M.E.
  • Bingham, R.J.
  • Williams, J.

    Combining ocean and earth models, we show that there is a region in the central Pacific ocean where ocean bottom pressure is a direct measure of interannual changes in ocean mass, with a noise level for annual means below 3 mm water equivalent, and a trend error below 1 mm/yr. We demonstrate this concept using existing ocean bottom pressure measurements from the region, from which we extract the annual cycle of ocean mass (amplitude 8.5 mm, peaking in late September), which is in agreement with previous determinations based on complex combinations of global data sets. This method sidesteps a number of limitations in satellite gravity-based calculations, but its direct implementation is currently limited by the precision of pressure sensors, which suffer from significant drift. Development of a low-drift method to measure ocean bottom pressure at a few sites could provide an important geodetic constraint on the earth system.

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