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Free Content Statistical inversion of South Atlantic circulation in an abyssal neutral density layer

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This paper introduces a Bayesian inversion approach to estimating steady state ocean circulation and tracer fields. It is based on a quasi-horizontal flow model and a PDE solver for the forward problem of computing solutions to the tracer field advection-diffusion equations. A typical feature of existing ocean circulation inverse methods is a preprocessing stage in which the tracer data are interpolated over a regular grid and the interpolation error is ignored in the subsequent inversion. Our approach only uses interpolated data at those grid points that have neighboring hydrographic stations. By exploiting physically-based models in an integrated fashion, the method provides a statistically unified inversion and tracer field reconstruction with minimal data smoothing. Solving the problem consists of finding information about the circulation and tracer fields in the presence of a number of assumptions (prior information); the resulting posterior probability distribution summarizes what we can know about these fields. We develop a Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation procedure to extract information from the (analytically intractable) posterior distribution of all the parameters in the model; uncertainty about the "solution" is represented by variation in the output of the simulation runs. Our approach is aimed at finding the time-averaged quasi-horizontal flow and tracer fields for an abyssal neutral density layer in the South Atlantic.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2005

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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