Long-range Radiation of Barotropic Rossby Waves from the Equatorial Pacific Ocean
Event: 2015 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting
Session: Science II: Mesoscale and sub-mesoscale ocean processes: current understanding and preparation for SWOT
Presentation type: Type Poster
Analysis of sea-surface height (SSH) anomalies from satellite altimetry shows variability throughout the North Pacific that is coherent with Tropical Instability Waves. In the tropics (10N-20N) this variability has regular phase patterns that are consistent with barotropic Rossby waves having northward energy propagation (Farrar, J. Phys. Oceanogr., 2011). Further north, the phase patterns become confused and the variance decreases, but hot spots of coherent variability reemerge in the Gulf of Alaska and south of the Aleutian Islands. Ray-tracing calculations and comparisons with numerical simulations support the conclusion that this remote (and seemingly isolated) variability can indeed be attributed to barotropic Rossby waves generated near the equator and undergoing bathymetric refraction as they propagate northward. This sort of barotropic wave variability, coupled to mesoscale instabilities and occurring at similar space and time scales, contributes to the mesoscale variability observed in SSH.