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Comparison of TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason Altimetry with ARAMIS In Situ Observations in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean

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Low frequency variability in the tropical Atlantic is complex and hard to witness due to the weakness of this signal compared to the dominant seasonal one. TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason provide a new tool to enlighten these topics by offering more than 10 years of continuous altimetric series. In the tropical regions, due to the vanishing of the Coriolis parameter, uncertainties of a few centimeters in sea level can result in large errors on geostrophic velocity which will propagate rapidly over the entire basin. Accuracy is then a crucial problem for these areas. The ARAMIS program (Altimétrie sur un Rail Atlantique et Mesures In Situ) has been developed by the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) organizations in order to get a long-term survey of temperature, salinity and pCO2 structures in the tropical Atlantic along a merchant ship line. The first two ARAMIS cruises, in July 2002 and March 2003, were dedicated to Jason validation. The dynamical contrast between ARAMIS1 and ARAMIS2 is first analyzed here in agreement with seasonal variations of surface fluxes and wind forcing. Comparisons with TOPEX/Poseidon and JASON data are then presented in terms of sea level analysis. New geopotential models such as the Earth Gravitational Model 1996 (EGM96) that have become available with a resolution of undulations on the order of 50 km, are checked to get the absolute signal. Finally, the tropical Atlantic surface circulation characteristics are used to point out the agreements/discrepancies between all in situ/satellite products, as geostrophic current will emphasize the sea level results.
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Keywords: ARAMIS; XBCT; XBT; altimetry; tropical Atlantic

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: LODYC, UMR 7617 CNRS/IRD/UPMC Université Pierre et Marie Curie Jussieu Paris France 2: Centre IRD de Brest Plouzané France 3: Centre IRD du Havre Le Havre France

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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