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Michel Ollitrault
and
Jean-Philippe Rannou

Abstract

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, more than 6000 Argo floats have been launched over the World Ocean, gathering temperature and salinity data from the upper 2000 m, at a 10-day or so sampling period. Meanwhile their deep displacements can be used to map the ocean circulation at their drifting depth (mostly around 1000 m). A comprehensive processing of the whole Argo dataset collected prior to 1 January 2010 has been performed to produce a world-wide dataset of deep displacements. This numerical atlas, named ANDRO, after a traditional dance of Brittany meaning a swirl, comprises some 600 000 deep displacements. These displacements, based on Argo or GPS surface locations only, have been fully checked and corrected for possible errors found in the public Argo data files (due to incorrect decoding or instrumental failure). Park pressures measured by the floats while drifting at depth are preserved in ANDRO (less than 2% of the park pressures are unknown): 63% of the float displacements are in the layer (900, 1100) dbar with a good (more or less uniform) degree of coverage of all the oceans, except around Antarctica (south of 60°S). Two deeper layers—(1400, 1600) and (1900, 2100) dbar—are also sampled (11% and 8% of the float displacements, respectively) but with poorer geographical coverage. Grounded cycles (i.e., if the float hits the sea bottom) are excluded. ANDRO is available online as an ASCII file.

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Michel Ollitrault
and
Alain Colin de Verdière

Abstract

Quasi-Lagrangian trajectories of 26 sound fixing and ranging (SOFAR) floats have been collected near a depth of 700 m in the Central North Atlantic between 1983 and 1989, aiming at studying the influence of the Mid-Atlantic ridge on the large-scale intermediate circulation. Launched as tight clusters (18 km near neighbor distance) on either side of the Mid-Atlantic ridge, the floats dispersed quickly over a few months, jumping from one mesoscale eddy to the next. By and large, cyclonic and anticyclonic eddy motions are equipartitioned. Apparently the Mid-Atlantic ridge remains a barrier even at that shallow depth, since only one float from either side drifted across the ridge. After a few years, floats have circulated through most of the western basin (west of the Mid-Atlantic ridge), between 30° and 45°N; while east of the ridge and south of the Azores Plateau, floats advected east of the Great Meteor et al. Seamounts by the Azores current wandered more sluggishly. On this timescale, float dispersion is much more efficient zonally than meridionally, an anisotropy mainly seen west of the ridge, where floats spread westward over 30° longitude, while no float penetrated south of 30°N and only two crossed 45°N northward.

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Michel Ollitrault
and
Alain Colin de Verdière

Abstract

Part I of this paper has given a descriptive view of the trajectories of 26 SOFAR floats drifting near 700-m depth in the central North Atlantic during the mid-1980s, as part of the TOPOGULF experiment. Here an Eulerian analysis of the 53.4 collected float years is performed by grouping data in 2° latitude × 4° longitude boxes. The mean circulation lacks a significant southward Sverdrupian flow and shows instead zonal bands of alternating westward and eastward currents (except in the Canary Basin). West of the ridge and north of 38°N, the general northeastward flow of the Gulf Stream system is recovered while, south of 38°N the westward recirculation observed from historical float data between 70° and 55°W is shown to extend as far as 40°W. A mean Azores Current is observed both west of the ridge near 33°N and east of 30°W near 34°N. In between, east of the ridge, a tongue of high eddy energy indicates stronger eddy activity and local instabilities of the Azores Current. Eddy kinetic energy and eddy potential energy (the latter inferred from temperature measurements) are equipartitioned on the scale of the eddy field and show a tenfold increase from 33°N, 33°W to 38°N, 50°W.

Lateral diffusivity increases westward (1.5 103 m2 s−1 in the Canary Basin, 3.5 103 m2 s−1 in Newfoundland Basin, 4.1 103 m2 s−1 near Corner Rise Seamounts) and scales approximately as eddy velocity times the first baroclinic Rossby radius of deformation.

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Alain Colin de Verdière
and
Michel Ollitrault

Abstract

The time-mean Argo float displacements and the World Ocean Atlas 2009 temperature–salinity climatology are used to obtain the total, top to bottom, mass transports. Outside of an equatorial band, the total transports are the sum of the vertical integrals of geostrophic- and wind-driven Ekman currents. However, these transports are generally divergent, and to obtain a mass conserving circulation, a Poisson equation is solved for the streamfunction with Dirichlet boundary conditions at solid boundaries. The value of the streamfunction on islands is also part of the unknowns. This study presents and discusses an energetic circulation in three basins: the North Atlantic, the North Pacific, and the Southern Ocean. This global method leads to new estimations of the time-mean western Eulerian boundary current transports maxima of 97 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) at 60°W for the Gulf Stream, 84 Sv at 157°E for the Kuroshio, 80 Sv for the Agulhas Current between 32° and 36°S, and finally 175 Sv for the Antarctic Circumpolar Current at Drake Passage. Although the large-scale structure and boundary of the interior gyres is well predicted by the Sverdrup relation, the transports derived from the wind stress curl are lower than the observed transports in the interior by roughly a factor of 2, suggesting an important contribution of the bottom torques. With additional Argo displacement data, the errors caused by the presence of remaining transient terms at the 1000-db reference level will continue to decrease, allowing this method to produce increasingly accurate results in the future.

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Michel Ollitrault
and
Alain Colin de Verdière

Abstract

The mean ocean circulation near 1000-m depth is estimated with 100-km resolution from the Argo float displacements collected before 1 January 2010. After a thorough validation, the 400 000 or so displacements found in the 950–1150 dbar layer and with parking times between 4 and 17 days allow the currents to be mapped at intermediate depths with unprecedented details. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the most prominent feature, but western boundary currents (and their recirculations) and alternating zonal jets in the tropical Atlantic and Pacific are also well defined. Eddy kinetic energy (EKE) gives the mesoscale variability (on the order of 10 cm2 s−2 in the interior), which is compared to the surface geostrophic altimetric EKE showing e-folding depths greater than 700 m in the ACC and northern subpolar regions. Assuming planetary geostrophy, the geopotential height of the 1000-dbar isobar is estimated to obtain an absolute and deep reference level worldwide. This is done by solving numerically the Poisson equation that results from taking the divergence of the geostrophic equations on the sphere, assuming Neumann boundary conditions.

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Herlé Mercier
,
Michel Ollitrault
, and
Pierre Yves Le Traon

Abstract

A nonlinear finite-difference inverse model is used for estimating the North Atlantic general circulation between 20° and 50°N. The inverse model with grid spacing 2° latitude and 2.5° longitude is based on hydrography and is in geostrophic and hydrostatic balances. The constraints of the inverse model are surface and subsurface float mean velocities; Ekman pumping derived from wind data; conservations of mass, heat, and salt; and the planetary vorticity equation at the reference level. The mass, heat, and salt conservations are applied in a vertically integrated form. The model does not have explicit mixing or air–sea flux terms. Vertical velocities result from the nondivergence of the 3D velocity field.

After inversion, float velocities, hydrographic data, and dynamical constraints are generally compatible within error bounds. A few float velocities are, however, rejected by the model mainly due to inadequate time or space sampling of the 2° latitude by 5° longitude boxes for which mean float velocities are computed.

The resulting circulation shows a maximum Gulf Stream transport close to 130 × 106 m3 s−1 at 64°W. Residuals of the vertically integrated heat and salt conservation constraints may be interpreted as air–sea fluxes and are of the right order of magnitude as compared to in situ measurements.

The float database used is already important particularly at the surface. However, its addition to the inversion does not change substantially the estimation by the model of integrated quantities, such as Gulf Stream transports, as compared to an inversion using hydrography and dynamical constraints alone. But floats significantly affect the estimation of the deep circulation increasing, for instance, the estimated velocity amplitude for the deep western boundary current flowing westward south of the Grand Banks.

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Alain Colin de Verdière
,
Thierry Huck
,
Souren Pogossian
, and
Michel Ollitrault

Abstract

The vertically integrated potential energy of an incompressible stratified fluid formulated in density coordinates can be simply written as a weighted vertical sum of the squares of the vertical displacements of density surfaces, a general expression valid for arbitrary displacements. The sum of this form of potential energy and kinetic energy is then a conserved quantity for the multilayer shallow water model. The formulation in density coordinates is a natural one to find the Lorenz reference state of available potential energy (APE). We describe the method to compute the APE of an ocean state and provide two applications. The first is the classical double-gyre, wind-driven circulation simulated by a shallow water model at high resolution. We show that the eddy kinetic and eddy potential energies are localized in regions of large gradients of mean APE. These large gradients surround an APE minimum found between the two gyres. The second is the time-mean World Ocean Circulation reconstructed from hydrography (World Ocean Atlas) and reference velocities at 1000 db from the Argo float program to obtain an absolute circulation. The total available potential energy exceeds the total mean kinetic energy of the World Ocean by three orders of magnitude, pointing out the very small Burger number of the circulation. The Gulf Stream, the Kuroshio, the Agulhas retroflection, and the confluence regions are four examples that confirm the shallow water model results that large gradients of mean available potential energy can be used as predictors for the presence of high eddy kinetic energy (obtained here from satellite altimetry).

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