Estimating the Circulation & Climate of the Ocean
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ECCO was initially formed under the National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) with funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Its long term goal is to provide a high resolution coupled ocean/sea-ice/biochemical (and ultimately, consistent atmospheric) state estimate to a wide community. In contrast to so-called numerical weather prediction, these estimates will include the ocean's history as well as predictions. ECCO's efforts toward this goal now include several projects, each of which is bringing ECCO closer to its long term goal, while providing significant scientific contributions.

An early vision, ca. 1982
(taken from "A Celebration in Geophysics and Oceanography 1982. In Honor of Walter Munk on his 65th birthday." C. Garrett and C. Wunsch, Eds., SIO Reference Series 84-5, March 1984)


(The orignal ECCO) ECCO1 refers to the initial consortium formed in 1998 by a group of scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO).
From its mission statement:
"... to bring ocean state estimation from its current experimental status to that of a practical and quasi operational tool for studying large-scale ocean dynamics, designing observational strategies, and examining the ocean's role in climate variability."
(click here for a complete science plan)

Within ECCO1 two formal estimation strategies were pursued for solving the least-squares model vs. data misfit problem.

  1. ECCO-SIO SIO and MIT have focused on the method of Lagrange multipliers (MLM), also known as the adjoint method (or related, 4DVAR in meteorology). Initial solutions covered the period 1992 to 1997 at 2 degree horizontal resolution (version 0), and have later been extended to 2002 at 1 degree. (version 1).
    ECCO-SIO homepage.

  2. ECCO-JPL JPL has focused mainly on an extended Kalman filter and RTS smoother approach. Solutions are produced in near real-time covering the period from 1993 to present. Its grid telescopically increases from 1 deg. at mid-latitudes to 1/3 deg. near the equator with 46 vertical levels.
    ECCO-JPL homepage.



ECCO-GODAE is the continuation of ECCO1 beyond 2004 under NOPP sponsorship in support of GODAE and CLIVAR with funding from NSF, NASA and NOAA. Additional partners now include Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER).
From its mission statement:
"... the sustained production and improvement of on-going best-estimates of the time-dependent, absolute ocean circulation employing as much of the global ocean data sets as is practicable. "
(click here for a complete science plan)
ECCO-GODAE currently maintains the overall ECCO homepage


German ECCO (GECCO) is an extension of ECCO-SIO, now based at the University of Hamburg's Institut fuer Meereskunde (IfM). It has shifted its focus to extending the estimation to cover the full 50-year NCEP/NCAR re-analysis period, as well as to regional higher-resolution estimates in the North Atlantic.
ECCO-GODAE currently maintains the overall ECCO homepage


ECCO2 - High-Resolution Global-Ocean and Sea-Ice Data Synthesis is Phase II of the ECCO project under the NASA Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction (MAP) program.
From its mission statement:
"... to produce increasingly accurate syntheses of all available global-scale ocean and sea-ice data at resolutions that start to resolve ocean eddies and other narrow current systems, which transport heat, carbon, and other properties within the ocean. "
(click here for a complete science plan)
ECCO2 homepage.

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