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Small-scale features of temperature and salinity surface fields in the Coral Sea

  • Maes, Christophe
  • Dewitte, Boris
  • Sudre, J.
  • Garçon, V.
  • Varillon, David
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
Horizon / Pleins textes
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The small-scale features in sea surface temperature and salinity fields (SST and SSS) of the Coral Sea are examined using high horizontal spatial and short-term temporal in situ measurements. These features are extracted from thermosalinographs (TSGs) gathered onboard commercial and research vessels and at one long-term fixed station. The analyses are performed along the vessel tracks and the structures of small-scale features are extracted by high-pass spatial filtering the original TSG data. For SSS, it is shown that the features at the scale of mesoscale eddies (∼100 km) vary from about −1.1 to +0.6 psu in the Coral Sea region. Processes sustaining such range include rainfall events, stirring by mesoscale eddies, and the latitudinal displacement of the sharp front associated with the edge of the Western Pacific Warm Pool at the seasonal time scales. The TSG data have revealed the presence of a sharp front (0.40.6 psu) between the subtropical and equatorial waters instead of a smooth gradient in the standard SSS climatologies. Within the context of recent remotely sensed observations of salinity, this could represent an important limitation for the validation and calibration of satellite products. In addition to these spatial considerations, temporal variations at one long-term station near Vanuatu show that the coupled air-sea responses to intraseasonal tropical variability, such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation, may have a signature in both SST and SSS fields. However, this response is found to be complex and not necessarily in phase. In the Coral Sea region, our results suggest that MJO-induced variability on SST and SSS exhibit little coherency at the seasonal time scales.

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