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Florian Le Guillou, Sammy Metref, Emmanuel Cosme, Julien Le Sommer, Clément Ubelmann, Jacques Verron, and Maxime Ballarotta


During the past 25 years, altimetric observations of the ocean surface from space have been mapped to provide two dimensional sea surface height (SSH) fields which are crucial for scientific research and operational applications. The SSH fields can be reconstructed from conventional altimetric data using temporal and spatial interpolation. For instance, the standardDUACS products are created with an optimal interpolation method which is effective for both low temporal and low spatial resolution. However, the upcoming next-generation SWOT mission will provide very high spatial resolution but with low temporal resolution.

The present paper makes the case that this temporal-spatial discrepancy induces the need for new advanced mapping techniques involving information on the ocean dynamics. An algorithm is introduced, dubbed the BFN-QG, that uses a simple data assimilation method, the back-and-forth nudging, to interpolate altimetric data while respecting quasigeostrophic dynamics. The BFN-QG is tested in an observing system simulation experiments and compared to the DUACS products. The experiments consider as reference the high-resolution numerical model simulation NATL60 from which are produced realistic data: four conventional altimetric nadirs and SWOT data. In a combined nadirs and SWOT scenario, the BFN-QG substantially improves the mapping by reducing the root-mean-square errors and increasing the spectral effective resolution by 40km. Also, the BFN-QG method can be adapted to combine large-scale corrections from nadirs data and small-scale corrections from SWOT data so as to reduce the impact of SWOT correlated noises and still provide accurate SSH maps.

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Yicun Zhen, Pierre Tandeo, Stéphanie Leroux, Sammy Metref, Thierry Penduff, and Julien Le Sommer


Because of the irregular sampling pattern of raw altimeter data, many oceanographic applications rely on information from sea surface height (SSH) products gridded on regular grids where gaps have been filled with interpolation. Today, the operational SSH products are created using the simple, but robust, optimal interpolation (OI) method. If well tuned, the OI becomes computationally cheap and provides accurate results at low resolution. However, OI is not adapted to produce high-resolution and high-frequency maps of SSH. To improve the interpolation of SSH satellite observations, a data-driven approach (i.e., constructing a dynamical forecast model from the data) was recently proposed: analog data assimilation (AnDA). AnDA adaptively chooses analog situations from a catalog of SSH scenes—originating from numerical simulations or a large database of observations—which allow the temporal propagation of physical features at different scales, while each observation is assimilated. In this article, we review the AnDA and OI algorithms and compare their skills in numerical experiments. The experiments are observing system simulation experiments (OSSE) on the Lorenz-63 system and on an SSH reconstruction problem in the Gulf of Mexico. The results show that AnDA, with no necessary tuning, produces comparable reconstructions as does OI with tuned parameters. Moreover, AnDA manages to reconstruct the signals at higher frequencies than OI. Finally, an important additional feature for any interpolation method is to be able to assess the quality of its reconstruction. This study shows that the standard deviation estimated by AnDA is flow dependent, hence more informative on the reconstruction quality, than the one estimated by OI.

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