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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-14
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-14
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Mar 2019

Research article | 01 Mar 2019

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

Single super-vortex as a proxy for ocean surface flow fields

Imre M. Jánosi1,2,3, Miklós Vincze3,4, Gábor Tóth1, and Jason A. C. Gallas2,5,6 Imre M. Jánosi et al.
  • 1Department of Physics of Complex Systems, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter s. 1/A, H-1117 Budapest, Hungary
  • 2Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Nöthnitzer Str. 38, 01187 Dresden, Germany
  • 3von Kármán Laboratory for Environmental Flows, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter s. 1/A, H-1117 Budapest, Hungary
  • 4MTA-ELTE Theoretical Physics Research Group, Pázmány Péter s. 1/A, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
  • 5Complexity Sciences Center, 9225 Collins Avenue Suite 1208, Surfside, FL 33154, USA
  • 6Instituto de Altos Estudos da Paraíba, Rua Silvino Lopes 419-2502, 58039-190 João Pessoa, Brazil

Abstract. Empirical flow field data evaluation in a well studied ocean region along the U.S. West Coast revealed a surprisingly strong relationship between the surface integrals of kinetic energy and enstrophy (squared vorticity). This relationship defines a single isolated Gaussian super-vortex, whose fitted size parameter is related to the mean eddy size, and the square of the fitted height parameter is proportional to the sum of the square of all individual eddy amplitudes obtained by standard vortex census. This finding allows a very effective coarse-grained eddy statistics with minimal computational efforts. As an illustrative example, the westward drift velocity of eddies is determined from a simple cross correlation analysis of kinetic energy integrals.

Imre M. Jánosi et al.
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Imre M. Jánosi et al.
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Latest update: 19 Mar 2019
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Short summary
Mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous swirling flow patterns in the open ocean with diameters of around 100 km. They transport a huge amount of heat and material and are therefore key elements of the weather of the ocean. Using satellite-based ocean surface elevation, we found that the combined global effect of all mesoscale eddies can be treated as a single strong super-vortex. This finding can be helpful to estimate the energy budget of ocean regions where only sparse field data is available.
Mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous swirling flow patterns in the open ocean with diameters of...
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