Visualizing and Quantifying Oceanic Motion

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Date of Original Version



Here I review the use of two highly complementary acoustical technologies for measuring currents in the ocean: acoustically tracked neutrally buoyant floats and vessel-mounted acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs). The beauty of floats lies in their ability to efficiently and accurately visualize fluid motion in fronts and vortices and the dispersion caused by mesoscale eddy processes. Floats complement classical hydrography by articulating mechanisms and pathways by which waters spread out from their source region. Vessel-mounted ADCPs can profile the water column at O(1 km) horizontal resolution to depths greater than 1,000 m. These vessel-based scans capture in detail the cross-stream structure of fronts and eddies as well as the impact of bathymetry on currents. Sustained sampling along selected routes builds up valuable databases both for statistical studies of the submesoscale velocity field and for accurate estimates of fluid transport, as well as how these vary over time.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Annual Review of Marine Science