Infragravity waves in the deep ocean: An upward revision

Type Publication
Date 2013-07
Language English
Copyright 2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Author(s) Aucan Jerome1, Ardhuin FabriceORCID2, 3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Toulouse Univ UPS, Inst Rech Dev, Lab Etud Geophys & Oceanog Spatiale, Toulouse, France.
2 : IFREMER, Lab Oceanog Spatiale, Brest, France.
3 : IFREMER, Lab Phys & Dynam Sedimentaire, Brest, France.
Source Geophysical Research Letters (0094-8276) (Amer Geophysical Union), 2013-07 , Vol. 40 , N. 13 , P. 3435-3439
DOI 10.1002/grl.50321
WOS© Times Cited 15
Keyword(s) Infragravity, SWO
Abstract Ocean infragravity waves are surface gravity waves with periods of several minutes and corresponding wavelengths of up to tens of kilometers. When propagating freely in the deep ocean, these waves are typically small, several centimeters at most, so they have been seldom studied. In the context of future wide-swath altimetry missions, these waves need to be better quantified as they have wavelengths that will be resolved by such instruments. Here, we analyze the global climatology and variability of infragravity waves in the deep ocean using data from over 40 open ocean locations, with depths larger than 2000 m. We show that typical infragravity wave heights are higher than previously estimated, with winter-averaged values up to 11 mm off the U. S. West Coast, and typically less than 6 mm in the tropics. The mid to high latitudes exhibit a strong seasonal cycle consistent with the local variability of the wind-waves, while the tropical Pacific has a higher energy level during the Austral winter that does not correlate well with the local wind-waves, suggesting a remote source for the recorded infragravity waves. These infragravity wave energies are expected to be a significant contribution to the error budget for possible measurements of sea level associated to sub-mesoscale currents at horizontal scales around 10 km. Hence, a global numerical model of infragravity waves will likely be necessary for the analysis of the planned Surface Water Ocean Topography mission.
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