Seasonality and interannual variability of the European Slope Current from 20 years of altimeter data compared with in situ measurements

Xu, W; Miller, PI; Quartly, GD; Pingree, RD. 2015 Seasonality and interannual variability of the European Slope Current from 20 years of altimeter data compared with in situ measurements. Remote Sensing of Environment, 162. 196-207. 10.1016/j.rse.2015.02.008

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2015.02.008

Abstract/Summary

The European Slope Current (SC) is a major section of the warm poleward flow from the Atlantic to the Arctic, which also moderates the exchange of heat, salt, nutrients and carbon between the deep ocean and the European shelf seas. The mean structure of the geostrophic flow, seasonality, interannual variability and long-term trend of SC are appraised with an unprecedented continuous 20-year satellite altimeter dataset. Comparisons with long term in situ data showed a maximum correlation of r2=0.51 between altimeter and Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP), with similar results for drogued buoy data. Mean geostrophic currents were appraised more comprehensively than previous attempts, and the paths of 4 branches of the North Atlantic Current (NAC) and positions of 5 eddies in the region were derived quantitatively. A consistent seasonal cycle in the flow of the SC was found at all 8 sections along the European shelf slope, with maximum poleward flow in the winter and minimum in the summer. The seasonal difference in the altimetry current speed amounted to ~8-10 cm s-1 at the northern sections, but only ~5 cm s-1 on the Bay of Biscay slopes. This extended altimeter dataset indicates significant regional and seasonal variations, and has revealed new insights into the interannual variability of the SC. It is shown that there is a peak poleward flow at most positions along a ~2000 km stretch of the continental slope from Portugal to Scotland during 1995-1997, but this did not clearly relate to the extreme negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) in the winter of 1995-1996. The speed of the SC exhibited a long term decreasing trend of ~1% per year. By contrast the NAC showed no significant trend over the 20-year period. Major changes in the NAC occurred three times, and these changes followed decreases in the NAO index.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Corresponding author is P.I. Miller
Additional Keywords: Altimeter, Slope Current, Eddy, ADCP, Seasonality, Interannual variability
Subjects: Earth Observation - Remote Sensing
Oceanography
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Sea from Space
Depositing User: Dr Peter I Miller
Date made live: 21 Apr 2015 14:20
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 16:13
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/6347

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