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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2018-96
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 11 Oct 2018

Research article | 11 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

Multicore structures and the splitting and merging of eddies in global oceans from satellite altimeter data

Wei Cui1,2, Wei Wang1, Jie Zhang2, and Jungang Yang2 Wei Cui et al.
  • 1Physical Oceanography Lab, Qingdao Collaborative Innovation Center of Marine Science and Technology, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, People’s Republic of China
  • 2The First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Qingdao 266061, China

Abstract. This study investigated the statistics of eddy splitting and merging in the global oceans based on 23 years’ altimetry data. Multicore structures were identified using an improved threshold-free closed-contour algorithm of sea surface height. Splitting and merging events were discerned from continuous time series maps of sea level anomalies. Multicore structures represent an intermediate stage in the process of eddy evolution, similar to the generation of multiple nuclei in a cell as a preparatory phase for cell division. Generally, splitting or merging events can change substantially (by a factor of two or more) the eddy scale, amplitude, and eddy kinetic energy. Specifically, merging (splitting) generally causes an increase (decrease) of eddy properties. Multicore eddies were found to tend to split into two eddies with different intensities. Similarly, eddy merging is not an interaction of two equal-intensity eddies, and that it tends to manifest as a strong eddy merging with a weaker one. A hybrid tracking strategy based on the eddy overlap ratio, considering both multicore and single-core eddies, was used to confirm splitting and merging events globally. The census revealed that eddy splitting and merging do not always occur most frequently in eddy-rich regions, e.g., their frequencies of occurrence in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and western boundary currents were found obviously higher than mid-latitude regions (20°–35°) north and south. Eddy splitting and merging are caused primarily by an unstable configuration of multicore structures due to obvious current– or eddy–topography interaction, strong current variation, and eddy–mean flow interaction.

Wei Cui et al.
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Short summary
Mesoscale eddies are large bodies of swirling water, which generally refer to ocean signals with spatial scales of tens to hundreds of kilometers and temporal scales of days to months. This study identified events of splitting and merging of mesoscale eddies in the global ocean based on Sea Level Height data. Multicore structures represent an intermediate stage in the process of eddy evolution, similar to the generation of multiple nuclei in a cell as a preparatory phase for cell division.
Mesoscale eddies are large bodies of swirling water, which generally refer to ocean signals with...
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