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Rick Lumpkin
,
Nikolai Maximenko
, and
Mayra Pazos

Abstract

NOAA ’s Global Drifter Program (GDP) manages a global array of ~1250 active satellite-tracked surface drifting buoys (“drifters”) in collaboration with numerous national and international partners. To better manage the drifter array and to assess the performance of various drifter manufacturers, it is important to discriminate between drifters that cease transmitting because of internal failure and those that cease because of external factors such as running aground or being picked up. An accurate assessment of where drifters run aground would also allow the observations to be used to more accurately simulate the evolution of floating marine debris and to quantify globally which shores are most prone to the deposit of marine debris. While the drifter Data Assembly Center of the GDP provides a metadata file that includes cause of death, the identified cause for most drifters is simply “quit transmitting.” In this study it is shown that a significant fraction of these drifters likely ran aground or were picked up, and a statistical estimate that each drifter ran aground or was picked up is derived.

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Oleg Melnichenko
,
Peter Hacker
,
Nikolai Maximenko
,
Gary Lagerloef
, and
James Potemra

Abstract

A method is presented for mapping sea surface salinity (SSS) from Aquarius level-2 along-track data in order to improve the utility of the SSS fields at short length [O(150 km)] and time [O(1 week)] scales. The method is based on optimal interpolation (OI) and derives an SSS estimate at a grid point as a weighted sum of nearby satellite observations. The weights are optimized to minimize the estimation error variance. As an initial demonstration, the method is applied to Aquarius data in the North Atlantic. The key element of the method is that it takes into account the so-called long-wavelength errors (by analogy with altimeter applications), referred to here as interbeam and ascending/descending biases, which appear to correlate over long distances along the satellite tracks. The developed technique also includes filtering of along-track SSS data prior to OI and the use of realistic correlation scales of mesoscale SSS anomalies. All these features are shown to result in more accurate SSS maps, free from spurious structures. A trial SSS analysis is produced in the North Atlantic on a uniform grid with 0.25° resolution and a temporal resolution of one week, encompassing the period from September 2011 through August 2013. A brief statistical description, based on the comparison between SSS maps and concurrent in situ data, is used to demonstrate the utility of the OI analysis and the potential of Aquarius SSS products to document salinity structure at ~150-km length and weekly time scales.

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Nikolai Maximenko
,
Peter Niiler
,
Luca Centurioni
,
Marie-Helene Rio
,
Oleg Melnichenko
,
Don Chambers
,
Victor Zlotnicki
, and
Boris Galperin

Abstract

Presented here are three mean dynamic topography maps derived with different methodologies. The first method combines sea level observed by the high-accuracy satellite radar altimetry with the geoid model of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which has recently measured the earth’s gravity with unprecedented spatial resolution and accuracy. The second one synthesizes near-surface velocities from a network of ocean drifters, hydrographic profiles, and ocean winds sorted according to the horizontal scales. In the third method, these global datasets are used in the context of the ocean surface momentum balance. The second and third methods are used to improve accuracy of the dynamic topography on fine space scales poorly resolved in the first method. When they are used to compute a multiyear time-mean global ocean surface circulation on a 0.5° horizontal resolution, both contain very similar, new small-scale midocean current patterns. In particular, extensions of western boundary currents appear narrow and strong despite temporal variability and exhibit persistent meanders and multiple branching. Also, the locations of the velocity concentrations in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current become well defined. Ageostrophic velocities reveal convergent zones in each subtropical basin. These maps present a new context in which to view the continued ocean monitoring with in situ instruments and satellites.

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Ali Belmadani
,
Nikolai A. Maximenko
,
Julian P. Mccreary
,
Ryo Furue
,
Oleg V. Melnichenko
,
Niklas Schneider
, and
Emanuele Di Lorenzo

Abstract

Two numerical ocean models are used to study the baroclinic response to forcing by localized wind stress curl (i.e., a wind-forced β plume, which is a circulation cell developing to the west of the source region and composed of a set of zonal jets) with implications for the Hawaiian Lee Countercurrent (HLCC): an idealized primitive equation model [Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS)], and a global, eddy-resolving, general circulation model [Ocean General Circulation Model for the Earth Simulator (OFES)]. In addition, theoretical ideas inferred from a linear continuously stratified model are used to interpret results. In ROMS, vertical mixing preferentially damps higher-order vertical modes. The damping thickens the plume to the west of the forcing region, weakening the near-surface zonal jets and generating deeper zonal currents. The zonal damping scale increases monotonically with the meridional forcing scale, indicating a dominant role of vertical viscosity over diffusion, a consequence of the small forcing scale. In the OFES run forced by NCEP reanalysis winds, the HLCC has a vertical structure consistent with that of idealized β plumes simulated by ROMS, once the contribution of the North Equatorial Current (NEC) has been removed. Without this filtering, a deep HLCC branch appears artificially separated from the surface branch by the large-scale intermediate-depth NEC. The surface HLCC in two different OFES runs exhibits sensitivity to the meridional wind curl scale that agrees with the dynamics of a β plume in the presence of vertical viscosity. The existence of a deep HLCC extension is also suggested by velocities of Argo floats.

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