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Accuracy of current profile measurements: effect of tropical and midlatitude internal waves
Send, U. (1994). Accuracy of current profile measurements: effect of tropical and midlatitude internal waves. J. Geophys. Res. 99(C8): 229-236.
In: Journal of Geophysical Research. American Geophysical Union: Richmond. ISSN 0148-0227, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Accuracy; Amplitude; Background noise; Current measurement; Internal waves; Low frequency; Ocean circulation; Spectral analysis; Surface water waves; Variability; Vertical distribution; Marine

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  • Send, U.

    The effect of midlatitude and tropical internal wave variability on current profile measurements is investigated and quantified to yield practical error estimates. First, a data set of Pegasus current profiles from the tropical Atlantic (6°S to 6°N) is analyzed for their rms down/up differences, which are compared with predictions from Garrett-Munk type internal wave theory and with statistics derived from current meter moorings in the same region. The agreement in terms of amplitudes and vertical distribution proves that most of those differences are due to internal waves and not instrumental errors. Nonetheless, this is the noise of the measurements, if low-frequency motions are sought, and the errors can thus be quantified using the same internal wave theories. At midlatitudes the error variance is the usual 44(N/3 cph) cm2/s2 with some latitude dependence, and the effect of averaging in the vertical or summing several profiles (e.g., up and down) is estimated. The same is done for equatorial situations, where construction of a crude equatorial frequency spectrum for internal waves yields 77(N/3 cph)cm2/s2 for the error variance. Again, error reduction due to averaging is estimated.

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