Optimization of an observing system design for the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation

Johanna Baehr, David McInerney, Klaus Keller, Jochem Marotzke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Three methods are analyzed for the design of ocean observing systems to monitor the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) in the North Atlantic. Specifically, a continuous monitoring array to monitor the MOC at 1000 m at different latitudes is "deployed" into a numerical model. The authors compare array design methods guided by (i) physical intuition (heuristic array design), (ii) sequential optimization, and (iii) global optimization. The global optimization technique can recover the true global solution for the analyzed array design, while gradient-based optimization would be prone to misconverge. Both global optimization and heuristic array design yield considerably improved results over sequential array design. Global optimization always outperforms the heuristic array design in terms of minimizing the root-mean-square error. However, whether the results are physically meaningful is not guaranteed; the apparent success might merely represent a solution in which misfits compensate for each other accidentally. Testing the solution gained from global optimization in an independent dataset can provide crucial information about the solution's robustness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-634
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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