Comparison between Eulerian diagnostics and finite-size Lyapunov exponents computed from altimetry in the Algerian basin

Type Article
Date 2009
Language English
Author(s) D'Ovidio Francesco1, 2, Isern-Fontanet Jordi3, Lopez Cristobal4, Hernandez Garcia Emilio4, Garcia Ladona Emilio5
Affiliation(s) 1 : IPSL, Lab Oceanog & Climat Expt & Approches Numer, Paris, France.
2 : Paris Ile France ISC PIF, Inst Complex Syst, Paris, France.
3 : IFREMER, Lab Oceanog Spatiale, Plouzane, France.
4 : CSIC UIB, Inst Fis Interdisciplinary & Sistemas Complejos, E-07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
5 : CSIC, Inst Ciencias Mar, E-08003 Barcelona, Spain.
Source Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers (0967-0637) (Elsevier), 2009 , Vol. 56 , N. 1 , P. 15-31
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr.2008.07.014
WOS© Times Cited 122
Keyword(s) Lagrangian dynamics, Mediterranean circulation, Altimetry, Filaments, Sub mesoscale
Abstract Transport and mixing properties of surface currents can be detected from altimetric data by both Eulerian and Lagrangian diagnostics. In contrast with Eulerian diagnostics, Lagrangian tools like the local Lyapunov exponents have the advantage of exploiting both spatial and temporal variability of the velocity field and are in principle able to unveil subgrid filaments generated by chaotic stirring. However, one may wonder whether this theoretical advantage is of practical interest in real-data, mesoscale and sub-mesoscale analysis, because of the uncertainties and resolution of altimetric products, and the non-passive nature of biogeochemical tracers. Here we compare the ability of standard Eulerian diagnostics and the finite-size Lyapunov exponent in detecting instantaneous and climatological transport and mixing properties in the south-western Mediterranean. By comparing with sea-surface temperature patterns, we find that the two approaches provide similar results for slowly evolving eddies like the first Alboran gyre. However, the Lyapunov exponent is also able to predict the (sub-)mesoscale filamentary processes occurring along the Algerian current and above the Balearic Abyssal Plain. Such filaments are also observed, with some mismatch, in sea-surface temperature patterns. Climatologies of Lyapunov exponents do not show any compact relation with other Eulerian diagnostics, unveiling a different structure even at the basin scale. We conclude that filamentation dynamics can be detected by reprocessing available altimetric data with Lagrangian tools, giving insight into (sub-)mesoscale stirring processes relevant to tracer observations and complementing traditional Eulerian diagnostics. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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D'Ovidio Francesco, Isern-Fontanet Jordi, Lopez Cristobal, Hernandez Garcia Emilio, Garcia Ladona Emilio (2009). Comparison between Eulerian diagnostics and finite-size Lyapunov exponents computed from altimetry in the Algerian basin. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 56(1), 15-31. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :