Reference : Atmospheric load response of the oceans determined using Geosat data
Scientific journals : Article
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Earth sciences & physical geography
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Physics
Atmospheric load response of the oceans determined using Geosat data
van Dam, Tonie mailto [Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT]
Wahr, John [CIRES and the Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA]
Geophysical Journal International
Blackwell Publishing
Yes (verified by ORBilu)
[en] air-sea interactions ; altimetery ; Ekman pumping ; inverted barometer ; sea level
[en] Approximately one year's worth of altimeter-derived sea-surface heights are compared with global sea-level pressure fields to verify the open ocean inverted barometer response (-1 cm mb-1). When pressure is fit to the sea-surface height along individual altimeter tracks, the response is found to be only 60–70 per cent of the theoretical response or approximately -0.6 to -0.7 cm mb-1. Fits at fixed geographic locations show a clear dependence on latitude. There is a steady decrease in the absolute value o the regression coefficient between 70° and 20°, and then an abrupt increase again closer to the equator. A simple error analysis demonstrates that errors in the pressure data would reduce the along-track regression values, as is observed, and could produce a similar latitude dependence. But, the errors are unlikely to be large enough to explain the entire departure from inverted barometer. We estimate that pressure errors are apt to perturb the along-track track results by no more than about 0.1-0.2 cm mb-1.

The possibility that the remaining disagreement is due to a global coherence between wind- and pressure-driven sea-surface height variability is considered. Winds driven by the pressure gradients of synoptic storms induce a sea-surface height response that is opposite in direction to that caused by the pressure cell. the wind-driven response is estimated for a stationary storm over a homogeneous barotropic ocean and for a moving storm over a two-layer baroclinic ocean by modeling the pressure cell as an idealized Gaussian distribution. the model results indicate that the wind-induced sea-surface height depends on both the radius and the translational velocity of the pressure cell. But, the winds associated with storms moving at average speeds of 10 ms-1 are apt to lower the theoretical pressure response in the model by only approximately 0.1 cm mb-1. the surface stress associated with those winds has the same latitudinal trend between 70° and 20° as the regression coefficients. But, the response of the ocean to that stress does not appear to exhibit the same trend. Nevertheless, the abrupt change in the regression coefficients near the equator suggests the apparent non-inverted barometer response may reflect a real change in sea-surface height related to atmospheric forcing (though the results near the equator are not as well defined as those at higher latitudes).

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