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Title

Sub-surface small scale eddy dynamics from multi-sensor observations and modeling

AuthorsBouffard, Jérôme ; Renault, Lionel; Ruiz, Simón ; Pascual, Ananda ; Dufau, Claire; Larnicol, Gilles; Tintoré, Joaquín
Issue Date2012
PublisherElsevier
CitationProgress in Oceanography 106: 62-79 (2012)
AbstractThe study of mesoscale and submesoscale [hereafter (sub)mesoscale] hydrodynamic features is essential for understanding thermal and biogeochemical exchanges between coastal areas and the open ocean. In this context, a glider mission was conducted in August 2008, closely co-located and almost simultaneously launched with a JASON 2 altimetric pass, to fully characterize the currents associated with regional (sub)mesoscale processes regularly observed to the north of Mallorca (Mediterranean Sea). A synoptic view from satellite remote-sensing fields, before and during the glider mission, provided a descriptive picture of the main surface dynamics at the Balearic Basin scale. To quantify the absolute surface geostrophic currents, the coastal altimetry-derived current computation was improved and cross-compared with its equivalent derived from glider measurements. Model simulations were then validated both qualitatively and statistically with the multi-sensor observations. The combined use of modeling and multi-sensor observational data reveals the baroclinic structure of the Balearic Current and the Northern Current and a small-scale anticyclonic eddy observed northeast of the Mallorca coast (current ∼ 15 cm/s, < 30 km in extent and > 180 m deep). This mesoscale structure, partially intercepted by the glider and along-track altimetric measurements, is marked by relatively strong salinity gradients and not, as is more typical, temperature gradients. Finally, the use of the validated model simulation also shows that the geostrophic component of this small-scale eddy is controlled by sub-surface salinity gradients. We hypothesize that this structure contains recently modified Atlantic water arriving from the strait of Ibiza due to a northerly wind, which strengthens the northward geostrophic circulation.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2012.06.007
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/54302
DOI10.1016/j.pocean.2012.06.007
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2012.06.007
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