Skewness of sea level variability of the world's oceans
Article first published online: 5 MAY 2006
Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans (1978–2012)
Volume 111, Issue C5, May 2006
How to Cite
2006), Skewness of sea level variability of the world's oceans, J. Geophys. Res., 111, C05005, doi:10.1029/2004JC002839., and (
- Issue published online: 5 MAY 2006
- Article first published online: 5 MAY 2006
- Manuscript Accepted: 7 DEC 2005
- Manuscript Revised: 26 AUG 2005
- Manuscript Received: 7 DEC 2004
- sea level;
- western boundary currents;
- model validation
 Skewness of sea level variability for the world's oceans is calculated using gridded altimeter data for the period 1993–2001. Many well-known ocean features can be identified in the skewness map, including the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio Extension, Brazil-Malvinas Confluence, and the Agulhas Retroflection. It is shown, through an idealized example and results from a quasi-geostrophic model, that sea level skewness can be used to identify the mean path of unstable ocean jets and also regions dominated by eddies with a preferred sense of rotation. These ideas are confirmed with a more detailed analysis of the skewness fields for the northwest Atlantic and Agulhas Retroflection region. Finally, it is argued that sea level skewness, like variance, is a potentially powerful diagnostic for testing the realism of high-resolution ocean circulation models.