Ponte Rui M.

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Rui M.

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  • Article
    How is New England coastal sea level related to the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 26 degrees N?
    (American Geophysical Union, 2019-05-01) Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Dangendorf, Sönke ; Gawarkiewicz, Glen G. ; Little, Christopher M. ; Ponte, Rui M. ; Yang, Jiayan
    Monthly observations are used to study the relationship between the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) at 26° N and sea level (ζ) on the New England coast (northeastern United States) over nonseasonal timescales during 2004–2017. Variability in ζ is anticorrelated with AMOC on intraseasonal and interannual timescales. This anticorrelation reflects the stronger underlying antiphase relationship between ageostrophic Ekman‐related AMOC transports due to local zonal winds across 26° N and ζ changes arising from local wind and pressure forcing along the coast. These distinct local atmospheric variations across 26° N and along coastal New England are temporally correlated with one another on account of large‐scale atmospheric teleconnection patterns. Geostrophic AMOC contributions from the Gulf Stream through the Florida Straits and upper‐mid‐ocean transport across the basin are together uncorrelated with ζ. This interpretation contrasts with past studies that understood ζ and AMOC as being in geostrophic balance with one another.
  • Article
    Intraseasonal sea level variability in the Persian Gulf
    (American Meteorological Society, 2021-05-01) Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Fukumori, Ichiro ; Ponte, Rui M.
    Satellite observations are used to establish the dominant magnitudes, scales, and mechanisms of intraseasonal variability in ocean dynamic sea level (ζ) in the Persian Gulf over 2002–15. Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis applied to altimetry data reveals a basinwide, single-signed intraseasonal fluctuation that contributes importantly to ζ variance in the Persian Gulf at monthly to decadal time scales. An EOF analysis of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) observations over the same period returns a similar large-scale mode of intraseasonal variability, suggesting that the basinwide intraseasonal ζ variation has a predominantly barotropic nature. A linear barotropic theory is developed to interpret the data. The theory represents Persian Gulf average ζ (¯ζ) in terms of local freshwater flux, barometric pressure, and wind stress forcing, as well as ζ at the boundary in the Gulf of Oman. The theory is tested using a multiple linear regression with these freshwater flux, barometric pressure, wind stress, and boundary ζ quantities as input and ¯ζ as output. The regression explains 70% ± 9% (95% confidence interval) of the intraseasonal ¯ζ variance. Numerical values of regression coefficients computed empirically from the data are consistent with theoretical expectations from first principles. Results point to a substantial nonisostatic response to surface loading. The Gulf of Oman ζ boundary condition shows lagged correlation with ζ upstream along the Indian subcontinent, Maritime Continent, and equatorial Indian Ocean, suggesting a large-scale Indian Ocean influence on intraseasonal ¯ζ variation mediated by coastal and equatorial waves and hinting at potential predictability. This study highlights the value of GRACE for understanding sea level in an understudied marginal sea.
  • Article
    Local and remote forcing of interannual sea‐level variability at Nantucket Island
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-06-07) Wang, Ou ; Lee, Tong ; Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Fukumori, Ichiro ; Fenty, Ian ; Frederikse, Thomas ; Menemenlis, Dimitris ; Ponte, Rui M. ; Zhang, Hong
    The relative contributions of local and remote wind stress and air-sea buoyancy forcing to sea-level variations along the East Coast of the United States are not well quantified, hindering the understanding of sea-level predictability there. Here, we use an adjoint sensitivity analysis together with an Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO) ocean state estimate to establish the causality of interannual variations in Nantucket dynamic sea level. Wind forcing explains 67% of the Nantucket interannual sea-level variance, while wind and buoyancy forcing together explain 97% of the variance. Wind stress contribution is near-local, primarily from the New England shelf northeast of Nantucket. We disprove a previous hypothesis about Labrador Sea wind stress being an important driver of Nantucket sea-level variations. Buoyancy forcing, as important as wind stress in some years, includes local contributions as well as remote contributions from the subpolar North Atlantic that influence Nantucket sea level a few years later. Our rigorous adjoint-based analysis corroborates previous correlation-based studies indicating that sea-level variations in the subpolar gyre and along the United States northeast coast can both be influenced by subpolar buoyancy forcing. Forward perturbation experiments further indicate remote buoyancy forcing affects Nantucket sea level mostly through slow advective processes, although coastally trapped waves can cause rapid Nantucket sea level response within a few weeks.
  • Preprint
    Origin of spatial variation in US East Coast sea-level trends during 1900-2017
    (Nature Research, 2018-12-18) Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Huybers, Peter ; Hay, Carling C. ; Kemp, Andrew C. ; Little, Christopher M. ; Mitrovica, Jerry X. ; Ponte, Rui M. ; Tingley, Martin P.
    Identifying the causes of historical trends in relative sea level—the height of the sea surface relative to Earth’s crust—is a prerequisite for predicting future changes. Rates of change along the U.S. East Coast during the last century were spatially variable, and relative sea level rose faster along the Mid-Atlantic Bight than the South Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Maine. Past studies suggest that Earth’s ongoing response to the last deglaciation1–5, surface redistribution of ice and water 5–9, and changes in ocean circulation9–13 contributed importantly to this large-scale spatial pattern. Here we analyze instrumental data14, 15 and proxy reconstructions4, 12 using probabilistic methods16–18 to show that vertical motions of Earth’s crust exerted the dominant control on regional spatial differences in relative sea level trends along the U.S. East Coast during 1900–2017, explaining a majority of the large-scale spatial variance. Rates of coastal subsidence caused by ongoing relaxation of the peripheral forebulge associated with the last deglaciation are strongest near North Carolina,Maryland, and Virginia. Such structure indicates that Earth’s elastic lithosphere is thicker than has been assumed in other models19–22. We also find a significant coastal gradient in relative sea level trends over this period that is unrelated to deglaciation, and suggests contributions from twentieth-century redistribution of ice and water. Our results indicate that the majority of large-scale spatial variation in longterm rates of relative sea level rise on the U.S. East Coast was due to geological processes that will persist at similar rates for centuries into the future.
  • Article
    Putting it all together: Adding value to the global ocean and climate observing systems with complete self-consistent ocean state and parameter estimates.
    (Frontiers Media, 2019-03-04) Heimbach, Patrick ; Fukumori, Ichiro ; Hill, Christopher N. ; Ponte, Rui M. ; Stammer, Detlef ; Wunsch, Carl ; Campin, Jean-Michel ; Cornuelle, Bruce D. ; Fenty, Ian ; Forget, Gael ; Kohl, Armin ; Mazloff, Matthew R. ; Menemenlis, Dimitris ; Nguyen, An T. ; Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Trossman, David S. ; Verdy, Ariane ; Wang, Ou ; Zhang, Hong
    In 1999, the consortium on Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO) set out to synthesize the hydrographic data collected by the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) and the satellite sea surface height measurements into a complete and coherent description of the ocean, afforded by an ocean general circulation model. Twenty years later, the versatility of ECCO's estimation framework enables the production of global and regional ocean and sea-ice state estimates, that incorporate not only the initial suite of data and its successors, but nearly all data streams available today. New observations include measurements from Argo floats, marine mammal-based hydrography, satellite retrievals of ocean bottom pressure and sea surface salinity, as well as ice-tethered profiled data in polar regions. The framework also produces improved estimates of uncertain inputs, including initial conditions, surface atmospheric state variables, and mixing parameters. The freely available state estimates and related efforts are property-conserving, allowing closed budget calculations that are a requisite to detect, quantify, and understand the evolution of climate-relevant signals, as mandated by the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) protocol. The solutions can be reproduced by users through provision of the underlying modeling and assimilation machinery. Regional efforts have spun off that offer increased spatial resolution to better resolve relevant processes. Emerging foci of ECCO are on a global sea level changes, in particular contributions from polar ice sheets, and the increased use of biogeochemical and ecosystem data to constrain global cycles of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. Challenges in the coming decade include provision of uncertainties, informing observing system design, globally increased resolution, and moving toward a coupled Earth system estimation with consistent momentum, heat and freshwater fluxes between the ocean, atmosphere, cryosphere and land.
  • Article
    Low-frequency dynamic ocean response to barometric-pressure loading
    (American Meteorological Society, 2022-10-17) Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Fukumori, Ichiro ; Ponte, Rui M. ; Schindelegger, Michael ; Wang, Ou ; Zhao, Mengnan
    Changes in dynamic manometric sea level ζm represent mass-related sea level changes associated with ocean circulation and climate. We use twin model experiments to quantify magnitudes and spatiotemporal scales of ζm variability caused by barometric pressure pa loading at long periods (≳1 month) and large scales (≳300km) relevant to Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) ocean data. Loading by pa drives basin-scale monthly ζm variability with magnitudes as large as a few centimeters. Largest ζm signals occur over abyssal plains, on the shelf, and in marginal seas. Correlation patterns of modeled ζm are determined by continental coasts and H/f contours (H is ocean depth and f is Coriolis parameter). On average, ζm signals forced by pa represent departures of ≲10% and ≲1% from the inverted-barometer effect ζib on monthly and annual periods, respectively. Basic magnitudes, spatial patterns, and spectral behaviors of ζm from the model are consistent with scaling arguments from barotropic potential vorticity conservation. We also compare ζm from the model driven by pa to ζm from GRACE observations. Modeled and observed ζm are significantly correlated across parts of the tropical and extratropical oceans, on shelf and slope regions, and in marginal seas. Ratios of modeled to observed ζm magnitudes are as large as ∼0.2 (largest in the Arctic Ocean) and qualitatively agree with analytical theory for the gain of the transfer function between ζm forced by pa and wind stress. Results demonstrate that pa loading is a secondary but nevertheless important contributor to monthly mass variability from GRACE over the ocean.
  • Article
    What caused recent shifts in tropical pacific decadal sea-level trends?
    (American Geophysical Union, 2019-10-31) Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Thompson, Philip R. ; Ponte, Rui M. ; Merrifield, Mark ; Hamlington, Benjamin D.
    Satellite altimetry reveals substantial decadal variability in sea level 𝜁 across the tropical Pacific during 1993–2015. An ocean state estimate that faithfully reproduces the observations is used to elucidate the origin of these low-frequency tropical Pacific 𝜁 variations. Analysis of the hydrostatic equation reveals that recent decadal 𝜁 changes in the tropical Pacific are mainly hermosteric in nature, related to changes in upper-ocean heat content. A forcing experiment performed with the numerical model suggests that anomalous wind stress was an important driver of the relevant heat storage and thermosteric variation. Closed budget diagnostics further clarify that the wind-stress-related thermosteric 𝜁 variation resulted from the joint actions of large-scale ocean advection and local surface heat flux, such that advection controlled the budget over shorter, intraseasonal to interannual time scales, and local surface heat flux became increasingly influential at longer decadal periods. In particular, local surface heat flux was important in contributing to a recent reversal of decadal 𝜁 trends in the tropical Pacific. Contributions from local surface heat flux partly reflect damping latent heat flux tied to wind-stress-driven sea-surface-temperature variations.
  • Article
    The relationship between U.S. East Coast sea level and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation: a review
    (American Geophysical Union, 2019-08-09) Little, Christopher M. ; Hu, Aixue ; Hughes, Chris W. ; McCarthy, Gerard D. ; Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Ponte, Rui M. ; Thomas, Matthew D.
    Scientific and societal interest in the relationship between the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and U.S. East Coast sea level has intensified over the past decade, largely due to (1) projected, and potentially ongoing, enhancement of sea level rise associated with AMOC weakening and (2) the potential for observations of U.S. East Coast sea level to inform reconstructions of North Atlantic circulation and climate. These implications have inspired a wealth of model‐ and observation‐based analyses. Here, we review this research, finding consistent support in numerical models for an antiphase relationship between AMOC strength and dynamic sea level. However, simulations exhibit substantial along‐coast and intermodel differences in the amplitude of AMOC‐associated dynamic sea level variability. Observational analyses focusing on shorter (generally less than decadal) timescales show robust relationships between some components of the North Atlantic large‐scale circulation and coastal sea level variability, but the causal relationships between different observational metrics, AMOC, and sea level are often unclear. We highlight the importance of existing and future research seeking to understand relationships between AMOC and its component currents, the role of ageostrophic processes near the coast, and the interplay of local and remote forcing. Such research will help reconcile the results of different numerical simulations with each other and with observations, inform the physical origins of covariability, and reveal the sensitivity of scaling relationships to forcing, timescale, and model representation. This information will, in turn, provide a more complete characterization of uncertainty in relevant relationships, leading to more robust reconstructions and projections.
  • Article
    Towards comprehensive observing and modeling systems for monitoring and predicting regional to coastal sea level
    (Frontiers Media, 2019-07-25) Ponte, Rui M. ; Carson, Mark ; Cirano, Mauro ; Domingues, Catia M. ; Jevrejeva, Svetlana ; Marcos, Marta ; Mitchum, Gary ; van de Wal, Roderik S.W. ; Woodworth, Philip L. ; Ablain, Michaël ; Ardhuin, Fabrice ; Ballu, Valerie ; Becker, Mélanie ; Benveniste, Jérôme ; Birol, Florence ; Bradshaw, Elizabeth ; Cazenave, Anny ; De Mey-Frémaux, Pierre ; Durand, Fabien ; Ezer, Tal ; Fu, Lee-Lueng ; Fukumori, Ichiro ; Gordon, Kathy ; Gravelle, Médéric ; Griffies, Stephen M. ; Han, Weiqing ; Hibbert, Angela ; Hughes, Chris W. ; Idier, Deborah ; Kourafalou, Vassiliki H. ; Little, Christopher M. ; Matthews, Andrew ; Melet, Angelique ; Merrifield, Mark ; Meyssignac, Benoit ; Minobe, Shoshiro ; Penduff, Thierry ; Picot, Nicolas ; Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Ray, Richard D. ; Rickards, Lesley ; Santamaría-Gómez, Alvaro ; Stammer, Detlef ; Staneva, Joanna ; Testut, Laurent ; Thompson, Keith ; Thompson, Philip ; Vignudelli, Stefano ; Williams, Joanne ; Williams, Simon D. P. ; Wöppelmann, Guy ; Zanna, Laure ; Zhang, Xuebin
    A major challenge for managing impacts and implementing effective mitigation measures and adaptation strategies for coastal zones affected by future sea level (SL) rise is our limited capacity to predict SL change at the coast on relevant spatial and temporal scales. Predicting coastal SL requires the ability to monitor and simulate a multitude of physical processes affecting SL, from local effects of wind waves and river runoff to remote influences of the large-scale ocean circulation on the coast. Here we assess our current understanding of the causes of coastal SL variability on monthly to multi-decadal timescales, including geodetic, oceanographic and atmospheric aspects of the problem, and review available observing systems informing on coastal SL. We also review the ability of existing models and data assimilation systems to estimate coastal SL variations and of atmosphere-ocean global coupled models and related regional downscaling efforts to project future SL changes. We discuss (1) observational gaps and uncertainties, and priorities for the development of an optimal and integrated coastal SL observing system, (2) strategies for advancing model capabilities in forecasting short-term processes and projecting long-term changes affecting coastal SL, and (3) possible future developments of sea level services enabling better connection of scientists and user communities and facilitating assessment and decision making for adaptation to future coastal SL change.
  • Article
    North American east coast sea level exhibits high power and spatiotemporal complexity on decadal timescales
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-07-15) Little, Christopher M. ; Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Ponte, Rui M.
    Tide gauges provide a rich, long-term, record of the amplitude and spatiotemporal structure of interannual to multidecadal coastal sea-level variability, including that related to North American east coast sea level “hotspots.” Here, using wavelet analyses, we find evidence for multidecadal epochs of enhanced decadal (10–15 year period) sea-level variability at almost all long ( 70 years) east coast tide gauge records. Within this frequency band, large-scale spatial covariance is time-dependent; notably, coastal sectors north and south of Cape Hatteras exhibit multidecadal epochs of coherence ( 1960–1990) and incoherence ( 1990-present). Results suggest that previous interpretations of along coast covariance, and its underlying physical drivers, are clouded by time-dependence and frequency-dependence. Although further work is required to clarify the mechanisms driving sea-level variability in this frequency band, we highlight potential associations with the North Atlantic sea surface temperature tripole and Atlantic Multidecadal Variability.