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Surface Quasi Geostrophic Reconstruction of Vertical Velocities and Vertical Heat Fluxes in the Southern Ocean: Perspectives for SWOT
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  • Elisa Carli,
  • Lia Siegelman,
  • Rosemary Anne Morrow,
  • Oscar Vergara
Elisa Carli
Laboratoire d'Études en Geophysique et Océanographie Spatiale (LEGOS)

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Lia Siegelman
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
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Rosemary Anne Morrow
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Oscar Vergara
Collecte Localisation Satellites
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Mesoscale currents account for 80% of the ocean’s kinetic energy, whereas submesoscale currents capture 50% of the vertical velocity variance.
SWOT’s first sea surface height (SSH) observations have a spatial resolution an order of magnitude greater than traditional nadir-looking altimeters and capture mesoscale and submesoscale features. This enables the derivation of submesoscale vertical velocities, crucial for the vertical transport of heat, carbon and nutrients between the ocean interior and the surface.
This work focuses on a mesoscale energetic region south of Tasmania using a coupled ocean-atmosphere simulation at km-scale resolution and preliminary SWOT SSH observations. Vertical velocities (w), temperature anomalies and vertical heat fluxes (VHF) from the surface down to 1000 m are reconstructed using effective surface Quasi-Geostrophic (sQG) theory. An independent method for reconstructing temperature anomalies, mimicking an operational gridded product, is also developed. Results show that sQG reconstructs 90% of the total \textit{w} and VHF rms at scales down to 30 km just below the mixed layer and 50-70% of the rms for scales larger than 70 km at greater depth, with a spatial correlation of ~0.6. The reconstruction is spectrally coherent (>0.65) for scales larger than 30-40 km at the surface, slightly degrading (~0.55) at depth.
The two temperature anomalies datasets yield similar results, indicating the dominance of w on VHF.
RMS of sQG w and VHF derived from SWOT are twice as large as those derived from conventional altimetry, highlighting the potential of SWOT for reconstructing energetic meso and submesoscale dynamics in the ocean interior.
20 Apr 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
22 Apr 2024Published in ESS Open Archive