Eddies contribute to striations in sea surface topography



Scientists recently observed striations in sea surface topography in all ocean basins. These striations appear as alternating mesoscale jet-like structures; they have speeds on the order of 1 centimeter per second and are typically separated by about 200 kilometers in the meridional direction. The cause of these striations has been debated. Contributing to this scientific discussion, Buckingham and Cornillon used a database of tracked eddies and a contour identification and eddy removal algorithm to show that eddies are a significant source of striations. The authors noted that a small portion of the energy was unaccounted for by propagating eddies, allowing for the existence of weak zonal flows. (Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, doi:10.1029/2012JC008231, 2013)