Sea surface slope as a proxy for Agulhas Current strength

Erik van Sebille, Lisa M. Beal, Arne Biastoch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The linear relation between the strength of the Agulhas Current at nominal latitude 34°S and the gradient in sea level height anomaly across the current is investigated in a 1/10° resolution regional numerical ocean model. Our results show that the strength of the current can be estimated with reasonable accuracy using altimeter data, once it has been calibrated using in-situ transport measurements. Three years of transport measurements provide a calibration with worst-case correlation R = 0.78. In that case the errors in proxy transport have a standard deviation of 9.8 Sv, compared to a 20.2 Sv standard deviation of the transport time series itself. From these results we conclude that the design of the Agulhas Current Timeseries (ACT) experiment, a three-year deployment of moorings across the Agulhas Current and along a TOPEX/Jason altimeter ground track, will likely produce a good quality multi-decadal time series of Agulhas Current strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberGRL26977
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2010


  • Agulhas region
  • altimetry
  • experiment design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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