Can the Weak Surface Currents of the Cape Verde Frontal Zone Be Measured With Altimetry?.

Zlotnicki, Victor, Siedler, Gerold and Klein, Birgit (1993) Can the Weak Surface Currents of the Cape Verde Frontal Zone Be Measured With Altimetry?. Open Access Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 98 (C2). pp. 2485-2493. DOI 10.1029/92JC02729.

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Three data types are compared in the low-current-velocity regime in the southeastern North Atlantic, between 12-degrees-N and 30-degrees-N, 29-degrees-W and 18-degrees-W: Geosat altimetric sea level and derived surface geostrophic velocities, shallow current meter velocities, and dynamic heights derived from hydrographic data from cruises 4, 6, and 9 of the research vessel Meteor. The four current meter daily time series, at depths around 200 m, were smoothed over 1 month; the altimetric geostrophic velocities were computed from sea surface slopes over 142 km every 17 days. The correlation coefficients between the current meter and altimetric geostrophic velocities range between 0.64 and 0.90 for the moorings near 29-degrees-N but between 0.32 and 0.71 for the two around 21-degrees-N; the associated rms discrepancies between the two measurement types range between 1.5 and 4.4 cm/s, which is 49% to 127% of the rms of the respective current meter time series. Dynamic heights relative to 1950 dbar for the months of November 1986 (d(M4)), November 1987 (d(M6)), and February 1989 (d(M9)) were computed from Meteor cruises 4, 6, and 9. Both dynamic heights and altimetric heights (h(M4), h(M6), h(M9)) were averaged over 1-degrees boxes for the duration of each cruise. Differences d(M4) - d(M6) and d(M9) - d(M6) were computed only at bins where at least one station from both cruises existed, Assuming that dynamic heights d in dynamic centimeters are equivalent to sea level h in centimeters, the standard deviation sigma of the differences ((h(M4) - h(M6)) - (d(M4) - d(M6))) and corresponding M9 - M6 values was 2.1 cm. This value (squared) is only 13% of the (5.8 cm)2 variance of the dynamic height differences and is indistinguishable from the 2.7- to 5.6-cm natural variability of sea level in the area expected between the times when the ship and the satellite sampled the ocean. The areally averaged discrepancy for M9 - M6 was only 0.7 cm, but the corresponding value for M4 - M6 was 5.2 cm. A systematic difference between the water vapor corrections used before and after July 1987 is responsible for the M4 - M6 difference. The average M4 - M6 discrepancy is only 0.1 cm using the Fleet Numerical Oceanography Center correction, with a standard deviation of 3.1 cm. In spite of the underlying differences in sampling and physics, including unknown barotropic components not included in our hydrographic dynamic heights, and in data errors, including water vapor, ionospheric, and orbital effects on the altimetry, consistent interannual changes of the mean sea level from the independently obtained altimetric and hydrographic data sets are obtained, and correlated seasonal changes in surface currents are observed with both altimetry and current meters.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1029/92JC02729
ISSN: 2169-9275
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2012 13:16
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2017 14:58

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