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A coarse-grained decomposition of surface geostrophic kinetic energy in the global ocean
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  • Michele Buzzicotti,
  • Benjamin A Storer,
  • Stephen M Griffies,
  • Hussein Aluie
Michele Buzzicotti
University of Rome Tor Vergata
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Benjamin A Storer
University of Rochester
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Stephen M Griffies
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Hussein Aluie
University of Rochester

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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We apply a coarse-grained decomposition of the ocean’s surface geostrophic flow derived from satellite and numerical model products. In the extra-tropics we find that roughly 60\% of the global surface geostrophic kinetic energy is at scales between 100 km and 500 km, peaking at ~300 km. Our analysis also reveals a clear seasonality in the kinetic energy with a spring peak. We show that traditional mean-fluctuation (or Reynolds) decomposition is unable to robustly disentangle length-scales since the time mean flow consists of a significant contribution (greater than 50%) from scales <500 km. By coarse-graining in both space and time, we find that every length-scale evolves over a wide range of time-scales. Consequently, a running time-average of any duration reduces the energy content of all length-scales, including those larger than 1000 km, and is not effective at removing length-scales smaller than 300 km. By contrasting our spatio-temporal analysis of numerical model and satellite products, we show that the AVISO gridded product suppresses temporal variations less than 10 days for all length-scales, especially between 100 km and 500 km.