Mesoscale variability from a high-resolution model and from altimeter data in the North Atlantic Ocean

Type Article
Date 2004-12
Language English
Author(s) Brachet Sidonie1, Le Traon Pierre-Yves1, Le Provost Christine2
Affiliation(s) 1 : CLS, Space Oceanog Div, F-31526 Ramonville St Agne, France.
2 : Lab Etud Geophys & Oceanog Spatiales, Toulouse, France.
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-oceans (0148-0227) (Amer Geophysical Union), 2004-12 , Vol. 109 , N. C1205 , P. 16 PP.
DOI 10.1029/2004JC002360
WOS© Times Cited 39
Keyword(s) eddy kinetic energy, North Atlantic Ocean
Abstract The objective of the paper is to analyze the degree of realism of the Parallel Ocean Program ( POP) model of the Los Alamos Laboratory using the combined TOPEX/Poseidon and ERS-1/2 (TPERS) sea level anomaly (SLA) data sets and to present a detailed study of mesoscale characteristics in the North Atlantic. This description spans 8 years of data from 1993 to 2000. At first, we focus on the analysis of the mean eddy kinetic energy ( EKE) and show that the major characteristics of mesoscale variability are realistically simulated despite an overestimation of the EKE model in the Gulf Stream region. We then describe the SLA space and timescales and propagation velocities at a resolution never achieved before. There is a high level of agreement between the model and altimeter values regarding spatial scales and propagation velocities. POP timescales are, however, significantly longer in the subtropical regions. The westward zonal propagation velocity of both the model and the observations are higher than the speed computed from standard Rossby wave theory. The effect of mean current advection on POP and TPERS propagation velocities is also clearly seen in the Labrador Current and in the Gulf Stream and its recirculations. Finally, a study of the seasonal and interannual variability of the high-frequency (HF) EKE is carried out. The model reproduces accurately most of the HF-EKE seasonal variations in the Caribbean Sea and at high latitudes despite a phase advance. A clear HF-EKE interannual variability is then evidenced. Our hypothesis is that a contraction of the subpolar and subtropical gyres due to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) could explain a reduction of the eddy activity in the North Atlantic Current, in the Newfoundland basin, and in the Azores Current. In the Caribbean Sea, the interannual variability of the EKE for both POP and TPERS seems to be caused by an interannual variability of the wind stress.
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