Accuracy of the deep convection intensity from a limited number of casts

Research output


Deep convection is one of the key components of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. The intensity of deep convection (DC) is traditionally estimated as the maximum mixed layer depth (MMLD). In this study, we developed a criterion of the minimum number of casts needed for obtaining the MMLD in the Greenland Sea with a pre-defined accuracy. The criterion depends on convection intensity. For gridded datasets, we introduce a complementary measure for the DC intensity: the area of the region with the mixed layer depth over a predefined value (800 m for the Greenland Sea, notated as S800). For a weak or a moderate DC, variations of its intensity is more clear from variations of the MMLD (cluster 1 in the MMLD - S800 parameter space). Then the MMLD can be obtained with the 25 % accuracy for at minimum 40 casts during winter. For a well developed DC (cluster 2), variations of the DC intensity are better accessed from variations of S800 and minimum 10 casts are required. In the central Greenland Sea, the number of casts is sufficient for obtaining the interannual variations of the convection intensity only since 1986. If only Argo floats are available, minimum 4 floats should simultaneously operate in the Greenland Sea gyre during winter to reach the abovementioned accuracy. Up to present, the number of floats has been insufficient during most of the winters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101164
JournalDynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science

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