Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology JPL HOME EARTH SOLAR SYSTEM STARS & GALAXIES SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY BRING THE UNIVERSE TO YOU JPL Email News RSS Podcast Video
JPL Banner
Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Oceanic Kelvin & Rossby Waves
January 01, 1996

This sequence of 3 TOPEX/Poseidon "snapshots" show sea surface height data in the Pacific Ocean. White and red indicated higher than average levels; purple and
magenta indicate lower than average levels. These scenes show eastward-moving Kelvin waves andwestward-moving Rossby waves. Superimposed black circles
show how the elevated sea surface moves east in April, then west as Rossby waves during July and December.

Kelvin & Rossby Waves: April 14, 1993
The 2 small black circles off the coast of the Americas correspond to sea level highs on the trailing edge of
Kelvin waves. The leading edge of this wave group has bounced off the coastline, creating Rossby waves
whose rising and falling sea levels are marked by solid and dashed lines, respectively.

Kelvin & Rossby Waves: July 31, 1993
In the July image, the circles are moving west with the Rossby waves. The "X" marks a relative sea level
low caused by a Kelvin wave moving east.

Kelvin & Rossby Waves: December 27, 1993
In December, the Rossby waves continue to move westward. The shapes of the solid and dashed lines
indicate that the Rossby waves are moving away from the Americas faster at the equator than at higher


JPL Identification #: P-46847

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Return to News Archive

Link to
Site Manager: Margaret Srinivasan
Webmaster: Kristy Kawasaki
JPL Clearance: CL01-1707