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Mean Velocity Decomposition and Vertical Eddy Diffusivity of the Pacific Ocean from Surface GDP Drifters and 1000-m Argo Floats

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  • 1 National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington, New Zealand
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Abstract

With the relatively recent development of Global Drifter Program (GDP) drifters that measure the near-surface ocean velocity and Argo floats that can be used to derive both the intermediate-ocean (1000 m) velocity and the mean dynamic height of the surface relative to 1000 dbar, there now exists the opportunity to directly observe the mean velocity decomposition of the ocean. This study computes the mean Ekman velocity by subtracting the mean referenced velocity derived from Argo data from the mean surface velocity derived from GDP data. This Ekman velocity is slightly stronger than previous observations and shows a spatial structure consistent with a vertical eddy diffusivity that is linearly dependent on wind stress. To do this analysis, the author has to deal with the fact that GDP drifters often lose their drogues, and a product of this research is validation of the wind-slip correction applied to GDP drifters that have lost their drogues.

Corresponding author address: Stephen M. Chiswell, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 14 901, Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail: s.chiswell@niwa.cri.nz

Abstract

With the relatively recent development of Global Drifter Program (GDP) drifters that measure the near-surface ocean velocity and Argo floats that can be used to derive both the intermediate-ocean (1000 m) velocity and the mean dynamic height of the surface relative to 1000 dbar, there now exists the opportunity to directly observe the mean velocity decomposition of the ocean. This study computes the mean Ekman velocity by subtracting the mean referenced velocity derived from Argo data from the mean surface velocity derived from GDP data. This Ekman velocity is slightly stronger than previous observations and shows a spatial structure consistent with a vertical eddy diffusivity that is linearly dependent on wind stress. To do this analysis, the author has to deal with the fact that GDP drifters often lose their drogues, and a product of this research is validation of the wind-slip correction applied to GDP drifters that have lost their drogues.

Corresponding author address: Stephen M. Chiswell, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 14 901, Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail: s.chiswell@niwa.cri.nz
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