Propagation characteristics of extratropical planetary waves observed in the ATSR global sea surface temperature record

Hill, Katherine L. ORCID:; Robinson, Ian S.; Cipollini, Paolo. 2000 Propagation characteristics of extratropical planetary waves observed in the ATSR global sea surface temperature record. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 105 (C9). 21927-21945.

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This paper examines the characteristics of planetary wave signatures that have been found in the Along Track Scanning Radiometer averaged sea surface temperature (ASST) record for 1991–1996. Longitude‐time plots for every latitude between 5° and 50°, north and south, reveal westward propagating wave‐like patterns at many locations, whose speed decreases with latitude like baroclinic Rossby waves. A two‐dimensional Radon transform method is used to measure the wave speed and its variation with location and time, which broadly matches the Rossby wave speeds predicted by the most recent theory and those measured by TOPEX altimetry, although there are some discrepancies. At low latitudes the thermally detected speeds are slower than expected, a possible consequence of sampling limitations. Wave signatures are clearest between 25° and 40°S, where the meridional temperature gradient is strongest. Here observed speeds are 20–30% greater than theoretical predictions. Planetary wave speed varies considerably with longitude. In general, it increases toward the west of ocean basins, and distinct differences between ocean basins are evident. The propagation characteristics of the waves appear to change abruptly at locations consistent with latitudinal variations in seafloor bathymetry, particularly midocean ridges. In addition, eastward propagating signatures are found in the Southern Ocean. The results demonstrate the value of the ASST data set as a tool for studying basin‐scale wave processes as a complement to the use of altimetry. By observing the thermal signature of Rossby waves the method has the potential to clarify their influence on air‐sea interaction processes and to contribute to climate modeling studies.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 01480227
Date made live: 01 Oct 2020 13:16 +0 (UTC)

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