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A Comparison of Methods to Determine Mass Transports from Hydrographic Measurements

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  • 1 Department of Physical Oceanography, The Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Den Burg, the Netherlands
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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the possibility of determining mass transports in a relatively small ocean region, using a hydrographic dataset and some general physical principles. A new hydrographic dataset of the Iceland Basin is used as an example. The physical principles imply geostrophy for the baroclinic component of the velocity field, whereas the barotropic component is determined in the first instance by assuming a uniform level of no motion.

It is attempted to eliminate the subjectivity inherent in this method by using inverse modeling techniques, which describe the physical principles (conservation of tracers) in a mathematical form. In this paper it is shown that some of this subjectivity is misleading, by presenting in detail which choices are to be made and how they influence the results. These choices include weighting parameters, omission of planned measurements, and smoothing parameters.

From a simulation study on the Levitus dataset it is concluded that the stability of the inverse methods can be improved by choosing an alternative way of sampling.

* Current affiliation: MEG Center KNAW, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Jan C. de Munck, MEG Center KNAW, AZVU Reception C, De Boelelaan 1117, Amsterdam 1081 HV, the Netherlands.

Email: 76511.3025@compuserve.com

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the possibility of determining mass transports in a relatively small ocean region, using a hydrographic dataset and some general physical principles. A new hydrographic dataset of the Iceland Basin is used as an example. The physical principles imply geostrophy for the baroclinic component of the velocity field, whereas the barotropic component is determined in the first instance by assuming a uniform level of no motion.

It is attempted to eliminate the subjectivity inherent in this method by using inverse modeling techniques, which describe the physical principles (conservation of tracers) in a mathematical form. In this paper it is shown that some of this subjectivity is misleading, by presenting in detail which choices are to be made and how they influence the results. These choices include weighting parameters, omission of planned measurements, and smoothing parameters.

From a simulation study on the Levitus dataset it is concluded that the stability of the inverse methods can be improved by choosing an alternative way of sampling.

* Current affiliation: MEG Center KNAW, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Jan C. de Munck, MEG Center KNAW, AZVU Reception C, De Boelelaan 1117, Amsterdam 1081 HV, the Netherlands.

Email: 76511.3025@compuserve.com

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