A three-dimensional eddy census of a high-resolution global ocean simulation
Article first published online: 4 APR 2013
©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Volume 118, Issue 4, pages 1759–1774, April 2013
How to Cite
2013), A three-dimensional eddy census of a high-resolution global ocean simulation, J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 118, 1759–1774, doi:10.1002/jgrc.20155., , , , and (
- Issue published online: 17 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 4 APR 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 11 MAR 2013 03:57PM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 7 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 6 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 17 AUG 2012
- eddy census;
- eddy characteristics
 A three-dimensional eddy census data set was obtained from a global ocean simulation with one-tenth degree resolution and a duration of 7 years. The census includes 6.7 million eddies in daily data, which comprise 152,000 eddies tracked over their lifetimes, using a minimum lifetime cutoff of 28 days. Variables of interest include eddy diameter, thickness (vertical extent), minimum and maximum depth, location, rotational direction, lifetime, and translational speed. Distributions of these traits show a predominance of small, thin, short-lived, and slow eddies. Still, a significant number of eddies possess traits at the opposite extreme; thousands of eddies larger than 200 km in diameter appeared in daily data each year. A tracking algorithm found hundreds of eddies with lifetimes longer than 200 days. A third of the eddies are at least 1000 m tall and many penetrate the full depth of the water column. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current contains the thickest and highest density of eddies. Thick eddies are also common in the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio Current, and Agulhas ring pathway. The great majority of eddies extend all the way to the surface, confirming that eddy censuses from surface observations are a good proxy for the full-depth ocean. Correlations between variables show that larger-diameter eddies tend to be thicker and longer lived than small eddies.