Mesoscale variability in the Atlantic Ocean from GEOSAT altimeter and WOCE high resolution numerical modelling effort

Stammer, D. and Böning, Claus W. (1992) Mesoscale variability in the Atlantic Ocean from GEOSAT altimeter and WOCE high resolution numerical modelling effort Journal of Physical Oceanography, 22 . pp. 732-752. DOI 10.1175/1520-0485(1992)022<0732:MVITAO>2.0.CO;2.

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Characteristic of the mesoscale variability in the Atlantic Ocean are investigated by analyzing the Geosat altimeter signal between 60°S and 60°N. The rms sea-surface variability for various frequency bands is studied, including the high-frequency eddy-containing band with periods <150 days. Wavenumber spectra and spatial eddy characteristics are analyzed over 10° by 10° boxes covering both hemispheres of the Atlantic Ocean. A comparison, with solutions of a high-resolution numerical experiment, developed as the Community Modeling Effort of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment, aids interpretation of the Geosat results in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic and provides a test of the model fluctuating eddy field.

Results from Geosat altimetry show a wavenumber dependence close to k1−5 (k1 being the alongtrack wave-number) over almost the entire Atlantic Ocean except for areas in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic where the rms variability in the eddy-containing band is less than 5 cm, that is, not significantly different from the altimeter noise level. Characteristic eddy length scales inferred from Geosat data are linearly related with the deformation radius of the first baroclinic mode over the whole Atlantic Ocean, except for the equatorial regime (10°S to 10°N).

The data-model comparison indicates that the high-resolution model with horizontal grid size of ⅓° and ° in latitude and longitude is quite capable of simulating observed eddy characteristics in the tropics and subtropics. In mid- and high latitudes, however, the model fails to simulate the pronounced poleward decrease in eddy scales. This leads to systematic discrepancies between the model and Geosat observation, with model scales being up to 50% larger than deduced from altimetry.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Mesoscale variability, Atlantic Ocean, GEOSAT, Altimeter, WOCE, High resolution, Numerical modelling effort
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1175/1520-0485(1992)022<0732:MVITAO>2.0.CO;2
ISSN: 0022-3670
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:27
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2018 13:20

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