Characterizing the navidad current interannual variability using coastal altimetry

Matthieu Le Hénaff, Laurent Roblou, Jérôme Bouffard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


In this study, the Navidad current, which flows along the northern coast of Spain in winter, is observed and characterized using coastal altimetry data over the period 1992-2002. This coastal current, marked by a strong interannual variability, is associated with eastward transport of warm waters along the shelf slope. Specific data editing and processing strategies have been applied to the along-track altimeter data, which allows us to retrieve altimetric sea level anomalies closer to the coast, with a better spatial coverage and improved quality when compared with standard altimetric products. The current variability observed upstream by in situ time series after November 1996 is well reproduced by the satellite across-track surface geostrophic current anomalies up until September 1999; this agreement degrades later in time. The combined use of satellite-derived current anomalies and sea-surface temperature anomalies allows us to develop indices of Navidad occurrences, in the first long-term, systematic survey of that current based on a multi-sensor approach. The satellite analyses confirm the previously identified Navidad occurrences in winter of 1995-1996, 1997-1998, and 2000-2001. Furthermore, a weak Navidad event was identified in winter 1996-1997. These four winters are associated with a negative North Atlantic Oscillation index in the previous fall, but the intensity of the Navidad is not correlated to the amplitude of that index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-437
Number of pages13
JournalOcean Dynamics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Coastal altimetry
  • Eastern boundary current
  • Multi-sensor approach
  • NAO index
  • Navidad current
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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