Lagrangian flow in the California Undercurrent, an observation and model comparison
Maltrud, Mathew E.
Collins, Curtis A,
Rago, Thomas A.
Paquette, Robert G.
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During the period 1992-1998, 38 isobaric RAFOS floats wre deployed to sample the subsurface flow of the California Undercurrent. The deployments, released over the California contintenal slope west of San Francisco, have sampled robust year-round poleward subsurface associated with the Undercurrent most seasons and the combined inshore current and Undercurrent in winter. Two other types of flow have been seen: a region of weak flow with little net displacement just west of the California Undercurrent, and an active westward propagating eddy field. This eddy field appears to be the primary mechanism for moving floats ffrom the Undercurrent into the ocean interior. The observations and statistics from the RAFOS floats are compared with Lagrangian estimates of particles tracked in a global high resolution ocean simulation in order to evaluate the fidelity of the model along an eastern boundary. The results show that the model reproduces the general character of the flow reasonably well, but underestimates both the mean and eddy energies by a substantial amount.
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