Recent advances in observing mesoscale ocean dynamics with satellite altimetry

Type Article
Date 2012-10
Language English
Author(s) Morrow Rosemary1, Le Traon Pierre-Yves2, 3
Affiliation(s) 1 : CTOH LEGOS, F-31401 Toulouse 9, France.
2 : Mercator Ocean, F-31520 Ramonville St Agne, France.
3 : IFREMER, F-31520 Ramonville St Agne, France.
Source Advances In Space Research (0273-1177) (Elsevier Sci Ltd), 2012-10 , Vol. 50 , N. 8 , P. 1062-1076
DOI 10.1016/j.asr.2011.09.033
WOS© Times Cited 83
Keyword(s) Satellite altimetry, Mesoscale eddies, Ocean circulation
Abstract The paper provides a review of recent results on mesoscale ocean dynamics derived from satellite altimetry. Since 1992, we have had an unprecedented 18 year high-resolution monitoring of the ocean mesoscale field. Altimetry is often used in mesoscale studies in synergy with other remote sensing techniques and in situ data. This global, high-resolution data set has allowed oceanographers to quantify the previously unknown seasonal and interannual variations in eddy kinetic energy and eddy heat and salt transports, and investigate their causes. Eddy tracking techniques have allowed us to monitor their propagation pathways, to bring to light the meridional divergence of cyclones and anticyclones, and to question the role of Rossby waves versus non-linear eddies in the mid to high latitude bands. Altimetry has also revealed the presence of zonal fronts and jets everywhere in the ocean, and brought to light how mesoscale eddies can impact back onto the atmospheric circulation. Finally, altimetry, in synergy with other observations and high-resolution numerical models, has helped reveal the complexity of the sub-mesoscale features, associated with stirring and mixing around the mesoscale eddies, of great importance for the vertical exchange of oceanic tracers. Altimetry has revealed the complexity of the mesoscale system… the scientific community is now working to understand the interplay between these mesoscale eddies, the ocean interior and its impact on the overlying atmosphere.
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