The major objective of Jason-1 is to provide information about the ocean general circulation
We derive the near-surface circulation through a synthesis of altimeter-derived quasi-geostrophic flows, an Ekman current model based upon surface drift observations, and direct measurements from surface drifting buoys. Our approach is heavily weighted by observations in order to create global ocean current fields that are independent of general circulation models and can be used in their evaluation.
Over the past decade a large number of observations from satellite altimeters and scatterometers, in situ drifters, floats and current meters, have produced spectacular new views of the ocean. However, no single measurement can provide a complete representation of the global near-surface circulation. In the past few years, it has been demonstrated that these data can be combined to produce a representation of the near-surface circulation with a reasonable degree of accuracy on regional and basin scales. A geostrophic current is computed from the altimeter sea- level gradient and the Ekman current is computed from a physical or statistical model (see figure 1). However, to date, neither a complete global algorithm nor a comprehensive map for the near- surface circulation has been developed. In this project, we will build new models to combine these measurements in order to map the global circulation and study climate change over the past decade.
Both approaches make use of NCEP reanalysis winds. We have determined that the winds are problematic in the South Pacific, which is consistent with personal communications from colleagues. We are now investigating other wind products (new NCEP reanalyses, ECMWF reanalyses with 4Dvar of satellite wind speeds).
The second approach above has borne out similar conclusions regarding the along-track averaging length used to process TOPEX/POSEIDON data to those in the submitted manuscript: "Comparisons of velocity variance in the Pacific Ocean using altimetric and surface drifter data". No single along-track averaging length can be used to estimate geostrophic velocities from sea surface height data over all latitudes. Longer smoothing scales are found in the tropics and shorter scales are found at higher latitudes.
The application of Jason-1 measurements to estimate the global near-surface ocean circulation for climate research