Spatial scales of temperature and salinity variability estimated from Argo observations
Received: 19 Jun 2015 – Discussion started: 18 Aug 2015 – Revised: 22 Oct 2015 – Accepted: 04 Nov 2015 – Published: 14 Jan 2016
- 1Ifremer, Technopole Brest Iroise, Z.I. de la Pointe du Diable, 29280 Plouzané, France
- 2Mercator Ocean, Parc technologique du Canal, 8–10 rue Hermès, 31520 Ramonville-Saint-Agne, France
- 3CLS, Parc Technologique du Canal, 8–10 rue Hermès, 31520 Ramonville-Saint-Agne, France
Argo observations from 2005 to 2013 are used to characterize spatial scales of temperature and salinity variations from the surface down to 1300 m. Simulations are first performed to analyze the sensitivity of results to Argo sampling; they show that several years of Argo observations are required to estimate spatial scales of ocean variability over 20° × 20° boxes. Spatial scales are then computed over several large-scale areas. Zonal and meridional spatial scales (Lx and Ly which are zero crossing of covariance functions) vary as expected with latitudes. Scales are of about 100 km at high latitudes and more of 700 km in the Indian and Pacific equatorial–tropical regions. Zonal and meridional scales are similar except in tropical–equatorial regions where zonal scales are much larger (by a factor of 2 to 3) than meridional scales. Spatial scales are the largest close to the surface and have a general tendency for temperature to increase in deeper layers. There are significant differences between temperature and salinity scales, in particular, in the deep ocean. Results are consistent with previous studies based on sparse in situ observations or satellite altimetry. They provide, however, for the first time a global description of temperature and salinity scales of variability and a characterization of their variations according to depths.