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Melissa M. Bowen
,
William J. Emery
,
John L. Wilkin
,
Paul C. Tildesley
,
Ian J. Barton
, and
Rebecca Knewtson

Abstract

Ocean surface circulation can be estimated by automated tracking of thermal infrared features in pairs of sequential satellite imagery. A 7-yr time series of velocity, extracted from thermal imagery of the East Australian Current using the maximum cross-correlation (MCC) technique, provides enough measurements for a more statistical evaluation of the method than has previously been possible. Excluding 1 yr with extensive cloud cover, the method produces about 8000 velocity estimates per month with some seasonal variation. Method precision is estimated to be between 0.08 and 0.2 m s–1 rms, the lower value with more restrictive compositing. Mean flow, time-dependent flow, and eddy kinetic energy from the time series are compared with values derived from a dynamic height climatology, altimeter analyses, and drifter datasets in the region. The observations reproduce similar features in the flow. The differences between the observations are discussed in relation to noise in the methods and differences in the types of velocities they measure.

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