Frequency content of sea surface height variability from internal gravity waves to mesoscale eddies

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Savage, Anna C.
Arbic, Brian K.
Richman, James G.
Shriver, Jay F.
Alford, Matthew H.
Buijsman, Maarten C.
Farrar, J. Thomas
Sharma, Hari
Voet, Gunnar
Wallcraft, Alan J.
Zamudio, Luis
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Internal gravity waves
Internal tides
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High horizontal-resolution (1=12:5° and 1=25°) 41-layer global simulations of the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM), forced by both atmospheric fields and the astronomical tidal potential, are used to construct global maps of sea surface height (SSH) variability. The HYCOM output is separated into steric and nonsteric and into subtidal, diurnal, semidiurnal, and supertidal frequency bands. The model SSH output is compared to two data sets that offer some geographical coverage and that also cover a wide range of frequencies—a set of 351 tide gauges that measure full SSH and a set of 14 in situ vertical profilers from which steric SSH can be calculated. Three of the global maps are of interest in planning for the upcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) two-dimensional swath altimeter mission: (1) maps of the total and (2) nonstationary internal tidal signal (the latter calculated after removing the stationary internal tidal signal via harmonic analysis), with an average variance of 1:05 and 0:43 cm2, respectively, for the semidiurnal band, and (3) a map of the steric supertidal contributions, which are dominated by the internal gravity wave continuum, with an average variance of 0:15 cm2. Stationary internal tides (which are predictable), nonstationary internal tides (which will be harder to predict), and nontidal internal gravity waves (which will be very difficult to predict) may all be important sources of high-frequency ‘‘noise’’ that could mask lower frequency phenomena in SSH measurements made by the SWOT mission.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2017. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 122 (2017): 2519–2538, doi:10.1002/2016JC012331.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 122 (2017): 2519–2538
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