Surface ocean mixing inferred from different multisatellite altimetry measurements

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24 Scopus citations


Two sea surface height (SSH) anomaly fields distributed by Archiving, Validation, and Interpretation of Satellite Oceanographic (AVISO) Altimetry are evaluated in terms of the effects that they produce on mixing. One SSH anomaly field, tagged REF, is constructed using measurements made by two satellite altimeters; the other SSH anomaly field, tagged UPD, is constructed using measurements made by up to four satellite altimeters. Advection is supplied by surface geostrophic currents derived from the total SSH fields resulting from the addition of these SSH anomaly fields to a mean SSH field. Emphasis is placed on the extraction from the currents of Lagrangian coherent structures (LCSs), which, acting as skeletons for patterns formed by passively advected tracers, entirely control mixing. The diagnostic tool employed to detect LCSs is provided by the computation of finite-time Lyapunov exponents. It is found that currents inferred using UPD SSH anomalies support mixing with characteristics similar to those of mixing produced by currents inferred using REF SSH anomalies. This result mainly follows from the fact that, being more easily characterized as chaotic than turbulent, mixing as sustained by currents derived using UPD SSH anomalies is quite insensitive to spatiotemporal truncations of the advection field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2466-2480
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010


  • Advection
  • Lagrangian circulation/transport
  • Mixing
  • Remote sensing
  • Surface observations
  • Tracers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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