Understanding the annual cycle in global steric height

Authors

  • Donata Giglio,

    Corresponding author
    1. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
    • Corresponding author: D. Giglio, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0230, USA. (dgiglio@ucsd.edu)

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  • Dean Roemmich,

    1. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
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  • Bruce Cornuelle

    1. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
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Abstract

[1] Steric variability in the ocean includes diabatic changes in the surface layer due to air-sea buoyancy fluxes and adiabatic changes due to advection, which are dominant in the subsurface ocean. Here the annual signal in subsurface steric height (ηbelow 200 db) is computed on a global scale using temperature and salinity profiles from Argo floats. The zonal average of Δη over a season (e.g., math formula) is compared to the wind-forced vertical advection contribution math formula both in the global ocean and in different basins. The results show agreement that extends beyond the tropics. The estimate of math formula is based on the Ekman pumping and assumes that the seasonal vertical velocity is constant over the depth range of interest. This assumption is consistent with annual isopycnal displacements inferred from Argo profiles. The contribution of horizontal advection to Δηis significant in some regions and consistent with differences between Δη and Δηw′.