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TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason Equatorial Sea Surface Slope Anomaly in the Atlantic in 2002: Comparison with Wind and Current Measurements at 23W

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A time series of velocity profile in the upper 150 m of the equatorial Atlantic was gathered at 23W in 2002 within the PIRATA program. It constitutes the first time series of near surface current measurements simultaneous with altimetric data in the equatorial Atlantic. The surface slope anomaly along the equator is computed from satellite altimetry, and, as a proxy for the pressure gradient along the equator, compared with the wind and near surface current data. In a first step, a time series of the surface slope anomaly along the equator in the Atlantic is computed from the 10-year-long TOPEX/Poseidon sea level anomalies. A sensitivity study establishes the robustness of the calculation. Apart from a 15 cm bias, the equatorial sea surface slope anomalies estimated either from TOPEX/Poseidon or from Jason over the 6-month overlap (Feb.–Aug. 2002) do not reveal drastic differences. We produce two sea surface slope anomaly composite time series for 2002 (one with T/P data, the other with Jason data during the commissioning phase) and compare them to the wind and velocity data at 23W. As expected, the near surface velocity and depth of the upper limit of the equatorial undercurrent (EUC) are extremely well correlated with the surface pressure gradient anomaly. 10-year-long time series of altimetry-derived zonal sea surface slope anomaly and ECMWF ERA40 wind stress are also well correlated. They exhibit similar spectral content and similar anomalous years. This is a first step towards a full analysis of the EUC dynamics using altimetry, PIRATA data (near surface current and subsurface thermohaline structure) and model. These initial comparisons reinforce the utility of Jason measurements for continuing the 10-year and highly accurate TOPEX/Poseidon time series for study of equatorial signals.

Keywords: Atlantic ocean; equatorial currents; equatorial dynamics; satellite altimetry; sea surface slope; wind

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: LODYC UMR7617 CNRS/IRD/UPMC/MNHN Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris France

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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