National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2024

PMEL Ocean Climate Stations (OCS) as Reference Time Series and Research Aggregate Devices

Cronin, M.F., N.D. Anderson, D. Zhang, P. Berk, S. Wills, Y. Serra, C. Kohlman, A.J. Sutton, M. Honda, J. Yang, J. Thomson, N. Lawrence-Slavas, and C. Meinig

Oceanography, 36(2–3), 46–53, doi: 10.5670/oceanog.2023.224, View open access article online at Oceanography(external link) (2023)

The NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) Ocean Climate Stations (OCS) project provides in situ measurements for quantifying air-sea interactions that couple the ocean and atmosphere. The project maintains two OceanSITES surface moorings in the North Pacific, one at the Kuroshio Extension Observatory in the Northwest Pacific subtropical recirculation gyre and the other at Station Papa in the Northeast Pacific subpolar gyre. OCS mooring time series are used as in situ references for assessing satellite and numerical weather prediction models. A spinoff of the PMEL Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) project, OCS moorings have acted as “research aggregating devices.” Working with and attracting wide-ranging partners, OCS scientists have collected process-​oriented observations of variability on diurnal, synoptic, seasonal, and interannual timescales, and trends associated with anthropogenic climate change. Since 2016, they have worked to expand, test, and verify the observing capabilities of uncrewed surface vehicles and to develop observing strategies for integrating these unique, wind-powered observing platforms within the tropical Pacific and global ocean observing system. PMEL OCS has been at the center of the UN Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) effort to develop an Observing Air-Sea Interactions Strategy (OASIS) that links an expanded network of in situ air-sea interaction observations to optimized satellite observations, improved ocean and atmospheric coupling in Earth system models, and ultimately improved ocean information across an array of essential climate variables for decision-makers. This retrospective highlights not only achievements of the PMEL OCS project but also some of its challenges.

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