New CNES-CLS09 global mean dynamic topography computed from the combination of GRACE data, altimetry, and in situ measurements

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Abstract

[1] An accurate knowledge of the ocean mean dynamic topography (MDT) is mandatory for the optimal use of altimetric data, including their assimilation into operational ocean forecasting systems. A new global 1/4° resolution MDT was computed for the 1993–1999 time period with improved data and methodology compared to the previous RIO05 MDT field. First, a large-scale MDT is obtained from the CLS01 altimetric Mean Sea Surface and a recent geoid model computed from 4.5 years of GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) data. Altimetric sea level anomalies and in situ measurements are then combined to compute synthetic estimates of the MDT and the corresponding mean currents. While the RIO05 MDT was based on 10 years of in situ dynamic heights and drifting buoy velocities, the new field benefits from an enlarged data set of in situ measurements ranging from 1993 to 2008 and includes all hydrological profiles from the Argo array. Moreover, the processing of the in situ data has been updated. A new Ekman model was developed to extract the geostrophic velocity component from the drifting buoy measurements. The handling of hydrologic measurements has also been revisited. Compared to the previous RIO05 solution, the new global MDT resolves much stronger gradients in western boundary currents, with mean velocities being doubled in some places. Moreover, in comparison to several other recent MDT estimates, we find that the new CNES-CLS09 MDT is in better agreement with independent in situ observations.

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