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Open Access item Vortices of the Mediterranean Sea: An Altimetric Perspective

Authors:Isern-Fontanet, Jordi
García-Ladona, Emilio
Font, Jordi
Issue Date:Jan-2006
Publisher:American Meteorological Society
Citation:Journal of Physical Oceanography 36(1): 87-103 (2006)
Abstract:The presence of coherent vortices makes observed mesoscale fields of the ocean resemble two-dimensional turbulence. Using this analogy, a common definition of a coherent structure has been used to study the statistical properties of Mediterranean Sea vortices observed by satellite altimeters over a 7-yr period. A vortex has been defined as the simply connected region with values of the Okubo–Weiss parameter W < −0.2σW, where σW is the spatial standard deviation of W, and the same sign of vorticity. This definition is shown to be appropriate to detect and characterize, statistically, properties such as size, mean kinetic energy, and amplitude of vortices in the Mediterranean basin from sea level anomaly maps corresponding to the period from October 1992 to October 1999. The distribution of such properties for the Mediterranean vortices suggests a heuristic criterion to extract and select very coherent and long-lived vortices from the whole set of structures identified in altimetric maps. Such coherent vortices appear to be selected for amplitudes greater than 2σW, where the amplitude has been defined in terms of the Okubo–Weiss parameter rather than vorticity, and strongly correspond to those reported from observations with independent data. Systematic locating and tracking of such vortices provide, for the first time, a general picture of their preferential paths in the Mediterranean basin, which are characterized by complex but rather well defined patterns
Description:17 pages, 12 figures, 2 tables
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JPO2826.1
ISSN:0022-3670 (Print)
1520-0485 (Online)
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Artículos

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