Ubiquitous zonal bands in subtropical oceans observed from space

Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems, Climate Variability & Change
Project Description
Examination of satellite-derived sea surface height (SSH) and sea surface temperature (SST) in the context of jets, eddies and bands/striations. The goal of this project is to determine whether quasi-zonal jets exist within the subtropical oceans. The research explores the existence of jets using two different datasets and resulting in two different studies. In the first study, we use a combination of altimeter-derived SSH and a database of tracked eddies (Chelton et al. 2011a) to determine the existence of jets in SSH. This approach demonstrates that jet-like structures observed in the oceans (cf. Maximenko et al. 2005, 2008) are predominantly the result of westward-propagating eddies, as postulated by Schlax and Chelton (2008), although there is some evidence for weak zonal flows and/or eddies of preferred path. This work was published in JGR-Oceans and can be found here: In the second study, we explore the existence of jets within microwave measurements of SST from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E). We assume initially that any such jets are associated with SST fronts. We then use a detection algorithm (Cayula and Cornillon 1992) to demonstrate the existence of banded patterns throughout all of the world oceans in multi-year averages of the detections. This effort is followed by close examination of short-duration (3-week) averages of the detections and we find that, in the subtropics, the bands in microwave SST appear to be the result of westward-propagating eddies. Some evidence for persistent paths is evident in microwave SST as in SSH. This project was part of a dissertation for the University of Rhode.
Project Administrator(s):
Christian Buckingham


Christian Buckingham