Ocean data assimilation brings together observations with known dynamics encapsulated in a circulation model to describe the time-varying ocean circulation. Its applications are manifold, ranging from marine and ecosystem forecasting to climate prediction and studies of the carbon cycle. Here, we address only climate applications, which range from improving our understanding of ocean circulation to estimating initial or boundary conditions and model parameters for ocean and climate forecasts. Because of differences in underlying methodologies, data assimilation products must be used judiciously and selected according to the specific purpose, as not all related inferences would be equally reliable. Further advances are expected from improved models and methods for estimating and representing error information in data assimilation systems. Ultimately, data assimilation into coupled climate system components is needed to support ocean and climate services. However, maintaining the infrastructure and expertise for sustained data assimilation remains challenging.


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