Estimating the Circulation & Climate of the Ocean
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ECCO was established in 1998 as part of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) with the goal of combining a general circulation model (GCM) with diverse observations in order to produce a quantitative depiction of the time-evolving global ocean state. The importance of such an endeavor is recognized by numerous national and international organizations, such as the WMO's World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Comission (IOC). These programs have all noted the necessity of synthesizing the diverse remotely-sensed and in-situ observations with known dynamics and thermodynamics through a GCM. ECCO products are in support of the Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) programme and the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE).


ECCO products as well as input fields and quality-controlled observations are freely available from several data servers through various applications (including DODS/OPeNDAP, LAS, GDS, Dapper, SRB, Ingrid).
A summary of available ECCO products and data servers can be found here.

The ECCO code is based on the MIT general circulation model (MITgcm), a numerical model designed for study of the atmosphere, ocean, and climate. It comes with a variety of packages including physical parameterizations, a sea-ice model, biochemical components, and allows flexible porting across various HPC platforms.
For more details on the MITgcm click here.
Since the mid-1990's, groups at MIT, SIO, JPL and GFDL have applied automatic/algorithmic differentiation (AD) tools for generating tangent linear and adjoint code for ocean circulation and climate studies. ECCO relies heavily on the AD tool TAMC and its commecial successor TAF. The ECCO group is also involved in the development of a new open-source AD tool OpenAD.
More details can be found here.

June 2017: A new 20-yr ECCO climatology is now available online:

ECCO version 4 has been used to calculate a uniform 20-year climatology as a time-mean over the period 1994-2013. The climatology is readily accessible as Matlab files. Associated pictorial atlas and descriptions are available in the DSpace@MIT ECCO Community Collection long-term archive. So far these include:

  • A Twenty-Year Dynamical Oceanic Climatology: 1994-2013. Part 1: Active Scalar Fields: Temperature, Salinity, Dynamic Topography, Mixed-Layer Depth, Bottom Pressure. (2017-03-20)
  • A Twenty-Year Dynamical Oceanic Climatology: 1994-2013. Part 2: Velocities, Property Transports, Meteorological Variables, Mixing Coefficients. (2017-06-14)

May 2016: Joint ECCO-Production and ECCO-IcES Meeting at MIT:

The ECCO-Production and ECCO-IcES groups will hold a joint project meeting at MIT from 16-18 May 2016. A preliminary meeting agenda is now available online.

Mar 2016: ECCO version 4, release 2 (ECCO v4-r2) now available online

As compared with the earlier release, ECCO v4-r2 benefits from a few additional corrections as documented in this note. ECCO v4-r2 (see products) further includes the full suite of observational inputs and forcing fields, as well as an interpolated version of the state estimate fields (on a half degree lat-lon grid). The ECCO v4 model settings (see model) have also been simplified to facilitate re-runs of the state estimate solution. This capability allows any user to generate model output that may not be available online (see the ECCO version 4 user guide).

May 2015 [UPDATED Mar 2016]: paper available describing ECCO version 4, release 1 (ECCO v4-r1) in details

Following the release in February 2014 (See products) of a new-generaption, global, bi-decadal state estimate (ECCO version 4, release 1), a paper has been published and highlighted in Geoscientific Model Development that provides a detailed description of the model and estimation configuration, the observational data streams, and basic properties of the solution: Forget, G., J.M. Campin, P. Heimbach, C.N. Hill, R.M. Ponte, and C. Wunsch, 2015: ECCO version 4: an integrated framework for non-linear inverse modeling and global ocean state estimation. Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 3071-3104, doi:10.5194/gmd-8-3071-2015

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Estimating the Circulation & Climate of the Ocean