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Peng-Qi Huang, Yuan-Zheng Lu, and Sheng-Qi Zhou

Abstract

A new method is developed to identify the mixed layer depth (MLD) from individual temperature or density profiles. A relative variance profile is obtained that is the ratio between the standard deviation and the maximum variation of the temperature (density) from the sea surface, and the depth of the minimum relative variance is defined as the MLD. The new method is robust in finding the MLD under the influence of random noise (noise level ≤ 5%). A comparison with other available methods, which include the threshold (difference, difference interpolation, gradient, and hybrid methods) and objective (curvature and maximum angle methods) methods, is carried out using the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) data. It is found that for a variety of depth sampling resolutions ranging from 0.04 to 25 dbar, the new method and the difference-interpolation method predict MLD values that are closer to the visually inspected ones than those by other methods. Moreover, the quality index (QI) of the MLD that is determined by the new method is the highest when compared with those of the available methods. Also, the application of the new method on the WOCE global dataset yields 94% of MLD values with , substantially higher than those (≤86%) of other methods. Ultimately, it is found that the new method determines very similar MLD values when applied to temperature or density profiles globally because it identifies the base of the mixed layer rather than the uppermost depth of the thermocline. This unique advantage makes the new method applicable in many cases, especially when the density profile is unavailable.

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Peng-Qi Huang, Xian-Rong Cen, Yuan-Zheng Lu, Shuang-Xi Guo, and Sheng-Qi Zhou

Abstract

In this study we examined the applicability of the threshold, curvature, maximum angle, and relative variance methods for identifying the oceanic bottom mixed layer (BML) thickness . Using full-depth temperature profiles along 17 WOCE sections covering the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, we found that the BML thicknesses determined based on the threshold, curvature, and maximum angle methods had wider 95% confidence intervals and much lower quality indexes compared with those based on the visual inspection (). The relative variance method appeared to perform better than the other methods because the 95% confidence interval and (0.60) values were closer to those determined based on the visual inspection, although differences were still present. We then proposed an integrated method by optimizing the possible values obtained from the four methods. The BML thicknesses determined using the integrated method were closest to those based on the visual inspection according to the higher (0.64) and more stations (71%) with . Compared with the results in previous studies, the integrated method determined the consistent BML thicknesses in most regions (e.g., the northern Atlantic), and it also effectively identified the BML thicknesses in some regions where the BML was considered to be not readily detectable (e.g., the Madeira Abyssal Plain).

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