A large in-situ data set, collected in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean, is merged with the TOPEX/POSEIDON altimeter observations in order to verify the use of altimeter data in monitoring the transports of the Agulhas/Benguela system. Comparisons between altimeter observations and either moored current meters or inverted echo sounder measurements shows that the sea-surface elevation anomaly is significantly correlated with the thermocline depth and the surface dynamic height, respectively. Knowing the least-squares regression parameters, it is possible to calculate the transports by using geostrophy and either a two-layer or a continuously-stratified model. The transports obtained from fits of dynamic height to altimeter sea-surface height are similar to the ones calculated with the moored instruments. In the southern part of the area under analysis, around 35S, close to the Agulhas retroflection, the transports obtained from the two-layer model are overestimated. Across the Benguela Current, at 30S, transports are still overestimated but of the same order as the measured ones. In this part of the region, the two-layer model can be successfully used to calculate the total and barotropic transports of the Benguela Current. Analysis of the three years of geostrophic transport obtained from the altimeter data indicate that the mean Benguela Current transport does not change interannually more than 20%. However, the primary interannual variability derives from the source water that forms the Benguela Current.
ASJC Scopus subject areas