Abstract's details

Separating waves and eddies from sea surface height: theory, applications, and limitations

Jeffrey Early (NorthWest Research Associates, United States)


Cimarron Wortham (NorthWest Research Associates, United States); Arthur Guillaumin (Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom); Jonathan Lilly (Planetary Science Institute, United States)

Event: 2023 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting

Session: Science III: Mesoscale and sub-mesoscale oceanography

Presentation type: Type Oral

Contribution: PDF file


Using recent advances in theory and modeling, we completely and unambiguously separate wave motions from geostrophic motions in a realistic ocean model and examine their separate imprints on sea surface height. We use this methodology for two related, but distinct, applications 1) to build a dynamically-aware statistical model of the sea surface height and 2) to validate and assess uncertainty of a new alongtrack eddy detection methodology.

Separating the effects of geostrophic motions, coherent internal tides, and other internal waves on the sea surface height within the model allows us to build a combined parametric statistical model that can be expressed in terms of a covariance function. We then consider how along-track observations of the sea surface height can be used to estimate the parameters of the model, thereby inferring physically relevant information from altimetric data. The result is an estimate of the covariance function that can be used to create an improved gridded mapped product. We also demonstrate the feasibility of detecting of coherent eddies with radii as small as 10 km from alongtrack data, using the model to validate the detection methodology and create bounds on the uncertainties in eddy detection.

Oral presentation show times:

Room Start Date End Date
Grande Beach Room (#208) Fri, Nov 10 2023,16:15 Fri, Nov 10 2023,16:30
Jeffrey Early
NorthWest Research Associates
United States