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.

May 2015: New paper available describing ECCO version 4, release 1

Following the release last year (see News) of a new-generaption, global, bi-decadal state estimate (ECCO-Production, release 1), a paper has been published in the journal Geoscientific Model Development Discussions 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. Discuss., 8, 3653-3743, doi:10.5194/gmdd-8-3653-2015

The state estimate is available for download on its native grid via MIT/ECCO's DODS/OPeNDAP server at:

Please send comments/questions or report issues to

The ECCO-Production team

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Estimating the Circulation & Climate of the Ocean