Reconstructability of 3-Dimensional Upper Ocean Circulation from SWOT Sea Surface Height Measurements

Type Article
Date 2016-03
Language English
Author(s) Qiu Bo1, Chen Shuiming1, Klein Patrice2, Ubelmann Clement3, Fu Lee-Lueng3, Sasaki Hideharu4
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Hawaii Manoa, Dept Oceanog, 1000 Pope Rd, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA.
2 : Ifremer CNRS UBO IRD, Lab Phys Oceans, Plouzane, France.
3 : CALTECH, Jet Prop Lab, Pasadena, CA USA.
4 : JAMSTEC, Applicat Lab, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.
Source Journal Of Physical Oceanography (0022-3670) (Amer Meteorological Soc), 2016-03 , Vol. 46 , N. 3 , P. 947-963
DOI 10.1175/JPO-D-15-0188.1
WOS© Times Cited 36
Keyword(s) Variability, Models and modeling, General circulation models, Vertical motion, Circulation/ Dynamics, Quasigeostrophic models, Mesoscale processes, Observational techniques and algorithms, Oceanic variability, Altimetry
Abstract Utilizing the framework of effective surface quasi-geostrophic (eSQG) theory, we explored the potential of reconstructing the 3D upper ocean circulation structures, including the balanced vertical velocity (w) field, from high-resolution sea surface height (SSH) data of the planned SWOT satellite mission. Specifically, we utilized the 1/30°, submesoscale-resolving, OFES model output and subjected it through the SWOT simulator that generates the along-swath SSH data with expected measurement errors. Focusing on the Kuroshio Extension region in the North Pacific where regional Rossby numbers range from 0.22 to 0.32, we found that the eSQG dynamics constitutes an effective framework for reconstructing the 3D upper ocean circulation field. Using the modeled SSH data as input, the eSQG-reconstructed relative vorticity (ζ) and w fields are found to reach a correlation of 0.7–0.9 and 0.6–0.7, respectively, in the 1,000m upper ocean when compared to the original model output. Degradation due to the SWOT sampling and measurement errors in the input SSH data for the ζ and w reconstructions is found to be moderate, 5–25% for the 3D ζ field and 15-35% for the 3D w field. There exists a tendency for this degradation ratio to decrease in regions where the regional eddy variability (or Rossby number) increases.
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