Accuracy assessment of global internal-tide models using satellite altimetry

Carrère, L., B. Arbic, B. Dushaw, G. Egbert, S. Erofeeva, F. Lyard, R. Ray, C. Ubelmann, E. Zaron, Z. Zhao, J. Shriver, M. C. Buijsman, and N. Picot (2021), Accuracy assessment of global internal-tide models using satellite altimetry, Ocean Sci., 17, 147-180, doi:10.5194/os-17-147-2021.

Altimeter measurements are corrected for several geophysical parameters in order to access ocean signals of interest, like mesoscale or sub-mesoscale variability. The ocean tide is one of the most critical corrections due to the amplitude of the tidal elevations and to the aliasing phenomena of high-frequency signals into the lower-frequency band, but the internal-tide signatures at the ocean surface are not yet corrected globally.

Internal tides can have a signature of several centimeters at the surface with wavelengths of about 50–250 km for the first mode and even smaller scales for higher-order modes. The goals of the upcoming Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission and other high-resolution ocean measurements make the correction of these small-scale signals a challenge, as the correction of all tidal variability becomes mandatory to access accurate measurements of other oceanic signals.

In this context, several scientific teams are working on the development of new internal-tide models, taking advantage of the very long altimeter time series now available, which represent an unprecedented and valuable global ocean database. The internal-tide models presented here focus on the coherent internal-tide signal and they are of three types: empirical models based upon analysis of existing altimeter missions, an assimilative model and a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model.

A detailed comparison and validation of these internal-tide models is proposed using existing satellite altimeter databases. The analysis focuses on the four main tidal constituents: M2, K1, O1 and S2. The validation process is based on a statistical analysis of multi-mission altimetry including Jason-2 and Cryosphere Satellite-2 data. The results show a significant altimeter variance reduction when using internal-tide corrections in all ocean regions where internal tides are generating or propagating. A complementary spectral analysis also gives some estimation of the performance of each model as a function of wavelength and some insight into the residual non-stationary part of internal tides in the different regions of interest. This work led to the implementation of a new internal-tide correction (ZARON'one) in the next geophysical data records version-F (GDR-F) standards.

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Physical Oceanography Program (POP)