Surface Eddy Momentum Flux and Velocity Variances in the Southern Ocean from Geosat Altimetry Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF


Attribute NameValues
  • Satellite altimetry has previously been used to map the magnitude of the surface eddy variability of the global oceans, but the direction of the time-variable velocities have been more difficult to determine. Here, a technique is presented for resolving both magnitude and direction of residual surface geostrophic velocities at Geosat altimeter crossover points; providing a two-year time series with a temporal resolution of 17 days and horizontal resolution of around 100 km. The time series of residual velocity components are then used to determine surface eddy statistics in the Southern Ocean and to investigate the role of transient eddies in the Southern Ocean momentum balance. The surface eddy statistics from Geosat crossover points show a complex spatial distribution in the surface Reynolds stresses (u'², v'², u'v'). In contrast to the assumptions of isotropic variability in previous analyses of altimeter data, velocity variance ellipses are found to be distinctly anisotropic in many regions. The surface eddy statistics compare favorably with the available in situ current meter data and surface drifter data. The complex spatial distribution of surface eddy momentum flux is strongly influenced by bottom topography and the position of the mean current. On a zonal average, the horizontal divergence of eddy momentum flux from transient eddies is found to be around two orders of magnitude too small to directly balance the eastward momentum from the wind. In the Agulhas Return Current and near the Macquarie Ridge/Campbell Plateau, the Reynolds stress are significant and they act to concentrate the mean jet, in agreement with recent numerical models. However, circumpolar streamwise averages along paths parallel to the mean axis of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current show only a small net convergence.
Resource Type
Date Available
Date Issued
  • Morrow, Rosemary, Richard Coleman, John Church, Dudley Chelton, 1994: Surface Eddy Momentum Flux and Velocity Variances in the Southern Ocean from Geosat Altimetry. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 24, 2050–2071.
Journal Title
Journal Volume
  • 24
Journal Issue/Number
  • 10
Rights Statement
Funding Statement (additional comments about funding)
  • This work was partly supported by a grant from the Australian Research Council and the Institute of Natural Resources and Environment, CSIRO Climate Change Program. RAM was supported by an Australian Post-Graduate Research Award and a CSIRO Post-Graduate Fellowship. DBC was supported by Contract 958127 from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, funded under the TOPEX/Poseidon Announcement of Opportunity.
Peer Reviewed
Additional Information
  • description.provenance : Submitted by Deborah Campbell ( on 2012-01-26T17:48:28ZNo. of bitstreams: 1CheltonDudley.CEOAS.SurfaceEddyMomentum.pdf: 2213878 bytes, checksum: b26c8231380c43c23de975546131aa20 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2012-01-26T17:48:28Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1CheltonDudley.CEOAS.SurfaceEddyMomentum.pdf: 2213878 bytes, checksum: b26c8231380c43c23de975546131aa20 (MD5) Previous issue date: 1994-10



This work has no parents.