Articles | Volume 10, issue 4
Research article
18 Aug 2014
Research article |  | 18 Aug 2014

Computation of a new mean dynamic topography for the Mediterranean Sea from model outputs, altimeter measurements and oceanographic in situ data

M.-H. Rio, A. Pascual, P.-M. Poulain, M. Menna, B. Barceló, and J. Tintoré

Abstract. The accurate knowledge of the ocean's mean dynamic topography (MDT) is a crucial issue for a number of oceanographic applications and, in some areas of the Mediterranean Sea, important limitations have been found pointing to the need of an upgrade. We present a new MDT that was computed for the Mediterranean Sea. It profits from improvements made possible by the use of extended data sets and refined processing. The updated data set spans the 1993–2012 period and consists of drifter velocities, altimetry data, hydrological profiles and model data. The methodology is similar to the previous MDT by Rio et al. (2007). However, in Rio et al. (2007) no hydrological profiles had been taken into account. This required the development of dedicated processing. A number of sensitivity studies have been carried out to obtain the most accurate MDT as possible. The main results from these sensitivity studies are the following: moderate impact to the choice of correlation scales but almost negligible sensitivity to the choice of the first guess (model solution). A systematic external validation to independent data has been made to evaluate the performance of the new MDT. Compared to previous versions, SMDT-MED-2014 (Synthetic Mean Dynamic Topography of the MEDiterranean sea) features shorter-scale structures, which results in an altimeter velocity variance closer to the observed velocity variance and, at the same time, gives better Taylor skills.