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Evaluation of Satellite-Altimetry-Derived Pycnocline Depth Products in the South China Sea

School of Marine Science, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510000, China
State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics, Second Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Hangzhou 310000, China
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
College of Ocean and Earth Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361000, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(8), 822;
Received: 27 June 2017 / Revised: 8 August 2017 / Accepted: 8 August 2017 / Published: 12 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Satellite Altimetry for Earth Sciences)
PDF [8643 KB, uploaded 12 August 2017]


The climatological monthly gridded World Ocean Atlas 2013 temperature and salinity data and satellite altimeter sea level anomaly data are used to build two altimeter-derived high-resolution real-time upper layer thickness products based on a highly simplified two-layer ocean model of the South China Sea. One product uses the proportional relationship between the sea level anomaly and upper layer thickness anomaly. The other one adds a modified component ( η M ) to account for the barotropic and thermodynamic processes that are neglected in the former product. The upper layer thickness, in this work, represents the depth of the main pycnocline, which is defined as the thickness from the sea surface to the 25 kg/m3 isopycnal depth. The mean upper layer thickness in the semi-closed South China Sea is ~120 m and the mean reduced gravity is ~0.073 m/s2, which is about one order of magnitude larger than the value obtained in the open deep ocean. The long-term temperature observations from three moored buoys, the conductivity-temperature-depth profiles from three joint cruises, and the Argo measurements from 2006 to 2015 are used to compare and evaluate these two upper layer thickness products. It shows that adding the η M component is necessary to simulate the upper layer thickness in some situations, especially in summer and fall in the northern South China Sea. View Full-Text
Keywords: upper layer thickness; satellite altimeter; two-layer ocean model; South China Sea upper layer thickness; satellite altimeter; two-layer ocean model; South China Sea

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Chen, Y.; Yu, K.; Dong, C.; He, Z.; Yan, Y.; Wang, D. Evaluation of Satellite-Altimetry-Derived Pycnocline Depth Products in the South China Sea. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 822.

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