Fitting Dynamic Models to the Geosat Sea Level Observations in the Tropical Pacific Ocean. Part I: A Free Wave Model

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  • 1 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
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Abstract

Free, equatorially trapped sinusoidal wave solutions to a linear model on an equatorial beta plane are used to fit the Geosat altimetric sea level observations in the Tropical Pacific Ocean. The Kalman filter technique is used to estimate the wave amplitude and phase from the data. The estimation is performed at each time step by combining the model forecast with the observation in an optimal fashion utilizing the respective error covariances. The model error covariance is determined such that the performance of the model forecast is optimized. It is found that the dominant observed features can be described qualitatively by basin-scale Kelvin waves and the first meridional mode Rossby waves. Quantitatively, however, only 23% of the signal variance can be accounted for by this simple model.

Abstract

Free, equatorially trapped sinusoidal wave solutions to a linear model on an equatorial beta plane are used to fit the Geosat altimetric sea level observations in the Tropical Pacific Ocean. The Kalman filter technique is used to estimate the wave amplitude and phase from the data. The estimation is performed at each time step by combining the model forecast with the observation in an optimal fashion utilizing the respective error covariances. The model error covariance is determined such that the performance of the model forecast is optimized. It is found that the dominant observed features can be described qualitatively by basin-scale Kelvin waves and the first meridional mode Rossby waves. Quantitatively, however, only 23% of the signal variance can be accounted for by this simple model.

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