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Identification of jets and mixing barriers from sea level and vorticity measurements using simple statistics

Hughes, Chris W. and Thompson, Andrew F. and Wilson, Chris (2010) Identification of jets and mixing barriers from sea level and vorticity measurements using simple statistics. Ocean Modelling, 32 (1-2). pp. 44-57. ISSN 1463-5003.

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The probability density functions (PDFs) of sea level and geostrophic relative vorticity are examined using satellite altimeter data. It is shown that departures from a Gaussian distribution can generally be represented by two functions, and that the spatial distribution of these two functions is closely linked to the skewness and kurtosis of the PDF. The patterns indicate that strong jets tend to be identified by a zero contour in skewness coinciding with a low value of kurtosis. A simple model of the statistics of a meandering frontal region is presented which reproduces these features. Comparisons with mean currents and sea surface temperature gradients confirm the identification of these features as jets, and confirm the existence of several Southern Ocean jets unresolved by drifter data. Diagnostics from a range of idealized eddying model simulations show that there is a strong, simple relationship between kurtosis of potential vorticity and effective diffusivity. This suggests that kurtosis may provide a simple method of mapping mixing barriers in the ocean.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Thompson, Andrew F.0000-0003-0322-4811
Additional Information:© 2009 Elsevier Ltd. Received 29 June 2009; Received in revised form 12 October 2009; Accepted 23 October 2009; Available online 29 October 2009. Thanks to Kevin Horsburgh for help with some basic statistical definitions. The altimeter products were produced by SSALTO/ DUACS and distributed by AVISO with support from CNES. Rio05 was produced by CLS Space Oceanography Division and distributed by AVISO, with support from CNES (http://www.aviso.oceanobs. com/). This paper is a contribution to the NERC-funded Oceans 2025 research programme.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Skewness; Kurtosis; Sea level; Vorticity; Jet; Meander; Mixing
Issue or Number:1-2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130215-093553707
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Official Citation:Chris W. Hughes, Andrew F. Thompson, Chris Wilson, Identification of jets and mixing barriers from sea level and vorticity measurements using simple statistics, Ocean Modelling, Volume 32, Issues 1–2, 2010, Pages 44-57, ISSN 1463-5003, 10.1016/j.ocemod.2009.10.004.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36944
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Feb 2013 00:04
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 04:43

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