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Test of a method for monitoring the geostrophic meridional overturning circulation using only boundary measurements

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Measurements of ocean bottom pressure, particularly on the continental slope, make an efficient means of monitoring large-scale integrals of the ocean circulation. However, direct pressure measurements are limited to monitoring relatively short time scales (compared to the deployment period) because of problems with sensor drift. Measurements are used from the northwest Atlantic continental slope, as part of the Rapid Climate Change (RAPID)–West Atlantic Variability Experiment, to demonstrate that the drift problem can be overcome by using near-boundary measurements of density and velocity to reconstruct bottom pressure differences with accuracy better than 1 cm of water (100 Pa). This accuracy permits the measurement of changes in the zonally integrated flow, below and relative to 1100 m, to an accuracy of 1 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) or better. The technique employs the “stepping method,” a generalization of hydrostatic balance for sloping paths that uses geostrophic current measurements to reconstruct the horizontal component of the pressure gradient.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hughes C, Elipot S, Morales Maqueda MA, Loder J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology

Year: 2013

Volume: 30

Pages: 789-809

Print publication date: 23/04/2013

Online publication date: 23/04/2013

ISSN (print): 0739-0572

ISSN (electronic): 1520-0426

Publisher: American Meteorological Society


DOI: 10.1175/JTECH-D-12-00149.1


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