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Estimation of oceanic eddy transports from satellite altimetry


Ocean eddies, like weather systems in the atmosphere, are an important mechanism for the transport of heat, momentum and matter. The difficulty and expense of observing ocean eddies have prevented the adequate inclusion of eddy effects in studies of global ocean–atmosphere climate. Here I suggest a novel approach, which uses fluctuations in sea-surface elevation, determined from Seasat altimetry, to obtain a simple estimate of eddy transports. The method is applied here to heat and salt transports in the North Pacific. Refinements of theory and modelling, together with data from future altimetric satellites, will improve the precision of the method.

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Holloway, G. Estimation of oceanic eddy transports from satellite altimetry. Nature 323, 243–244 (1986).

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