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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Sea Surface Height (SSH) and Steric Height: Understanding the Relationship Between SSH and Subsurface Ocean Temperature and Salinity Variability


Dean Roemmich - (University of California, San Diego)

  John Gilson
Nathalie Zilberman
(Scripps Institution of Oceanography-UCSD, Physical Oceanography)
(Scripps Institution of Oceanography, CASPO)
  Bruce Cornuelle
Philip Sutton
(University of California at San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography 0230)


The increasing period of overlap between satellite altimetry and global observations of subsurface temperature and salinity from the Argo Program creates an unprecedented opportunity for understanding sea surface height (SSH) variability in relation to its subsurface causes. The proposed research includes three broad topics to investigate SSH variability in combination with subsurface datasets. First, about half a million Argo profiles and co-located altimetric SSH observations will be analyzed to study the relationship of SSH to steric height and subsurface temperature and salinity variability. This work will take both global and regional perspectives, addressing time-scales from sub-seasonal to interannual/decadal. Second, the combination of altimetric height with Argo and other datasets can mitigate the limitations of both types of data in studies of the mean and time-varying ocean circulation. Here, analyses will focus on the velocity and volume transport of oceanic boundary currents, as these pose a major challenge for the present ocean observing system. Finally, studies of the magnitude, distribution, and time-scales of deep ocean steric variability (below 2000 m) in relation to SSH will contribute to understanding the requirements for enhanced sampling of the deep ocean, and to evolving the integrated ocean observing system. Our team incorporates long experience in analysis of altimetric height, Argo, and other subsurface datasets, and also includes young investigators bringing new perspectives.

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