Annual variability of sea surface height and upper layer thickness in the Pacific Ocean

Yoshinobu Wakata, Shouko Kitaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The annual variabilities of the sea surface height in the Pacific Ocean were investigated by analyzing the TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite data and by solving a reduced gravity model. We discuss how adequately the simple model can capture the variabilities of the sea surface height, and what the cause of the variabilities is. Three large amplitude peaks in the satellite data are found along the 12°N longitude line. Two elongated zones with a large amplitude are also found: one extends east-west along 6°N and the other extends northwestward from South America around 25°S. These features are adequately reproduced in the numerical simulation of the reduced gravity model. The propagation of the Rossby wave is analyzed by the use of the extended Eliassen-Palm flux to investigate the mechanism of these annual variabilities. The two east peaks around 12°N can be explained in terms of the interference between the local Ekman pumping and the free wave emitted near the western coast of North America, and the most western peak is affected by the Rossby wave formed by the local wind stress. The elongated zonal area around 6°N is mainly due to the local Ekman pumping. Another area around 25°S results from the convergence of the free Rossby wave emitted from the eastern boundary and the area with the strong wind stress curl off South America. A discrepancy between the satellite data and the model results suggests that the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean is relatively calm in the model but not in the satellite data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-450
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography


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