National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1996

Proceedings of the Fourth Meeting of the TAO Implementation Panel, Fortaleza, Brazil, 12–14 September 1995, WCRP Informal Report 1/1996

Koehn, M.P., L.J. Mangum, and M.J. McPhaden (editors)

Published on behalf of the directorates of The Global Climate Observing System, The Global Ocean Observing System, and The Climate Variability and Predictability Program by NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, WA, 61 pp (1996)


The fourth meeting of the TAO Implementation Panel was hosted jointly by the FundaŁão Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (FUNCEME) and the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) in Fortaleza, Brazil from 12 to 14 September 1995.

The purpose of the meeting was to review the status of the TAO Array, to discuss logistical and technical issues related to its maintenance and possible expansion (especially expansion into the equatorial Atlantic Ocean), and to promote scientific exchange between individuals and organizations involved in the analysis of TAO data. The meeting was attended by about 35 participants from 7 countries (Brazil, France, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the United States).

This was the first meeting conducted under the joint sponsorship of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the World Climate Research Program on Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR). Sponsorship passed to these organizations with the termination of the International TOGA Program at the end of 1994.

The early portion of the meeting was devoted to logistic and technical issues affecting the Array. Highlights from this portion of the agenda were:

  • The TAO Array was completed on 17 December 1994, with the deployment of an ATLAS mooring at 8°N, 156°E by the Taiwanese R/V Ocean Researcher I. At the time of the meeting, the Array consisted of moorings at 67 sites, 64 of which were instrumented with ATLAS moorings and 5 of which were instrumented with current meter moorings. In two instances (0°, 147°E and 0°, 170°W) subsurface ADCP moorings were collocated with ATLAS moorings.
  • The TAO Array service vessel acquired from the U.S. Navy by NOAA is being refit for mooring work in Bellingham, Washington. The ship should enter service in March-April 1996. Formerly known as the Titan, the ship will be rechristened the NOAA Ship Ka'imimoana.
  • Commitment of ship time remains an issue in the maintenance of the Array in the Western Pacific. During the past 12 months, Japan and Taiwan provided 49 and 44 days, respectively, on cruises that supported the TAO Array. These cruises also support national research programs, so that cruise tracks are not necessarily optimized to service TAO moorings. Therefore, several moorings have been in place for longer than their design lifetime, leading to mooring failures, equipment loss, data loss and breaks in the continuity of the data stream. Data and equipment loss in the western Pacific is further exacerbated by vandalism due to fishing vessels in the Western Pacific. Together, fishing vandalism and non-optimal ship time allocations lead to much lower data return in the western Pacific than in the central and eastern Pacific.
  • Japan is committed to providing 50 days of ship time in 1996 for servicing moorings of the TAO array in the western Pacific. France will provide approximately 4 days of ship time in September-October 1996 as part of a JGOFS cruise along the date line. These contributions, though essential, are inadequate to maintain the western portion of the array. Taiwan expressed optimism at the possibility of contributing ship time for TAO maintenance in 1996; Korea expressed similar optimism for TAO ship time in 1997. The panel expressed hope that this optimism would translate into firm commitments by Taiwan and Korea in the coming year.
  • The TAO Project Office is in the process of developing an informational brochure aimed at the tropical Pacific fishing industry. This brochure represents an attempt to educate fishermen concerning the benefits of the TAO Array. Plans are to publish the brochure in several languages and distribute it to all known fishery-related industries operating in the area. Two magazine articles were also submitted to fisheries publications providing basic information about the TAO Array. The fort of these articles will appear in the Fisheries Bulletin published by the South Pacific Commission in New Caledonia.
  • JAMSTEC continues to develop plans for a western Pacific Array that will provide a real-time data stream similar to TAO. Plans call for conversion of the R/V Mutsu to service the array beginning in 1998. Five mooring sites are planned for establishment in Japanese Fiscal Year (JFY) 1997, with 8 more sites in JFY 98 and 7 more sites in JFY 99.
  • A 5-year plan developed in 1990 for moored velocity measurements in TAO was reviewed. The panel recommended a shift from real-time acoustic Doppler current profiler measurements to subsurface, internally recording acoustic Doppler current profiler measurements at all sites presently instrumented for velocity. This strategy was endorsed in view of the fact that real-time data quality and quantity are compromised by fish-bias errors and fishing vandalism; and that scientific uses of the data at present do not urgently require the data be transmitted in real time. National support for moored velocity measurements and holdings of the TAO velocity data center were also reviewed.
  • The status of a pilot salinity monitoring project in the western Pacific was reviewed. Due to problems with fishing vandalism and mooring failures in the first year of the field program, emphasis will shift away from heavily instrumented moorings with vertical arrays of salinity sensors. Instead, instruments will be spread out over a larger geographical region (156°E to the date line) with emphasis on surface salinity.
  • Developmental efforts at PMEL continue for the inductively coupled next generation ATLAS mooring. Two prototype moorings are presently deployed adjacent to standard ATLAS moorings in the eastern Pacific. Depending on the success of these pilot deployments, it is expected that the next generation mooring design will be operational within two years.
  • PMEL has established a rain gauge test and calibration facility in the Olympic National Rain Forest. At present, several sensors are undergoing evaluation in terms of instrument performance and sampling strategies. Results of these evaluations will be used to incorporate rainfall measurements into the next generation ATLAS mooring design.
  • Data from the array continue to be available to the international community in real time via the Global Telecommunications System. Additionally, World Wide Web access has been expanded during the past year to allow distribution and display of real time data, and to provide updated online information regarding the TAO project (the URL is A new enhanced version of the TAO Workstation Software was also released during summer 1995.

The middle part of the meeting was devoted to program status reports. Among these were presentations on the Global Climate Observing System, Global Ocean Observing System, the French contribution to the CLIVAR Program, the U.S. Pan American Climate Studies (PACS) Program and the WOCE/Atlantic Climate Change Experiment. Also, several presentations were made by members of the host delegation regarding climate research in Brazil. This research is primarily motivated by the relationship between interannual variations in sea surface temperature (both in the Atlantic and Pacific) and Brazilian rainfall. Present capabilities in Brazil for making ocean observations were also highlighted.

The final portion of the meeting was dedicated to the presentation of research reports focusing on climate analyses, modeling, and forecasting. Reports were presented on coupled modes of climate variability in the tropical Atlantic, El Niño dynamics, Indian Ocean monsoon variability, equatorial waves, data assimilation, and seasonal-to-interannual forecasting. Where appropriate, these presentations emphasized the utility of TAO data in furthering our understanding, and our ability to predict, short-term climate variability.

The meeting concluded with the observation that expansion of the TAO Array into the Atlantic could be strongly justified, given the compelling nature of the climate problem, and the relative sparsity of in situ data. The panel furthermore recommended that as a first step, consideration should be given to developing a multi-national pilot scale moored array to address some of the most outstanding scientific issues related to ocean-atmosphere interaction in the region.

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