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TAO TIP 4 Discussions

Discussions and recommendations

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Moored Velocity Measurements
The Panel discussed the review of current measurements within the framework of the TAO array, and endorsed the three recommendations contained in that review, specifically those regarding:

  1. Collection of velocity measurements from subsurface moorings;
  2. The JAMSTEC/PMEL contingency plan to maintain the five velocity measurement sites along the equator; and
  3. The need to update the velocity data base with the most recent data from 0°,170°W
Discussion of these points also led to some clarification of issues not explicitly contained in the review.

With regard to the use of subsurface ADCP moorings at 110°W, 140°W and 165°E, it should be noted that nearby surface moorings will contain mechanical current meters as backup should the ADCP fail for any reason. Some of these mechanical current meters (at 10 m in particular) will provide data in the near surface zone where subsurface ADCP data are degraded because of surface reflections.

With regard to the JAMSTEC/PMEL plan for maintaining velocity measurements along the equator, it was emphasized that this plan would only take effect should the U.S. National Science Foundation fail to fund the University of South Florida proposal to support 0°,170°W. Indeed, should the USF proposal fare well in peer review, the panel welcomes long-term (5-year) support from NSF; and in particular, the panel welcomes UNOLS ship time support to maintain this site as requested in the USF proposal. Ship time support is one of the most critical needs of the TAO Project, and a long-term commitment of UNOLS ships to maintain elements of the TAO Array would help to cover some of the ship time short falls that have been experienced in recent years.

With regard to data availability, the Panel considers unacceptable tightly controlled access to data previously collected at 170°W by USF, and recommends these data be immediately submitted to the TAO data center, or linked electronically by anonymous ftp to the TAO data base. Should the USF proposal fare well in peer review, the Panel furthermore considers unacceptable a 2-year proprietary data policy (typical of NSF proposals) for future data collected at 0°,170°W. TAO is at present transitioning from an array motivated primarily by research requirements, to an array that has a significant operational component to it. Therefore, the Panel recommends that delayed-mode velocity data from all moored velocity sites within the array be made available within 6 months of mooring recovery via anonymous ftp.

Atlantic Pilot Studies
The Panel reviewed the scientific issues regarding ocean-atmosphere variability in the Atlantic on time scales of relevance to seasonal, interannual and longer term climate. Two significant modes of climate variability, namely the north-south Atlantic "dipole" and an ENSO-like mode with manifestations mainly along the equator, were the principal topics of discussion. These modes have a clear impact on the regional climate of the Atlantic basin. Therefore, there is compelling reason to better understand their origins and evolution; and to better define the limits of their predictability. The Panel recognized that present in situ data bases are inadequate to address many of the outstanding issues related to these climate signals. Hence, it recommended that consideration be given to pilot studies designed to enhance the climate data base in the tropical Atlantic. It furthermore noted that a pilot scale moored measurement program, appropriately designed, could provide high accuracy time series data capable of addressing some of the unanswered questions about ocean-atmosphere interactions in this part of the world ocean.

[Editors' note: Subsequent to the panel meeting, a working group was formed to draft a scientific prospectus and implementation plan for a pilot moored array in the tropical Atlantic. The group, dubbed PIRATA (PIlot Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic), is chaired by A. Moura of INPE and J. Servain of ORSTOM.]

Terms of Reference and Categories of Membership
In executive session, the Panel revised its terms of reference and categories of membership. The terms of reference needed updating since, with the end of TOGA last year, the Panel has new sponsors (CLIVAR, GCOS, GOOS). The main change in categories of membership was to redefine and restructure the Principal Investigators category to an Executive Committee category. This change is in keeping with the movement towards long-term operational maintenance of the array. The new terms of reference and categories of membership can be found in Appendix 5. Current TAO Panel Membership is listed in Appendix 6.

Definition of TAO Support
At present, five nations (United States, Japan, Taiwan, France, and Korea) are listed as supporting the TAO Array. Subsequent to the panel meeting, the TAO Executive Committee developed by e-mail correspondence an explicit definition for "support." The intent is to ensure that nations making essential contribution to the maintenance of the array are duly credited and recognized. The explicit definition with elaboration is presented in Appendix 7.
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