University of Tasmania
Southern Ocean jets and how to find them.pdf (8.77 MB)

Southern Ocean jets and how to find them: Improving and comparing common jet detection methods

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 08:56 authored by Chapman, CC
This study undertakes a detailed comparison of different methods used for detecting and tracking oceanic jets in the Southern Ocean. The methods under consideration are the gradient thresholding method, the probability density function (PDF) method, and the contour method. Some weaknesses of the gradient thresholding method are discussed and an enhancement (the WHOSE method), based on techniques from signal processing, is proposed. The WHOSE method is then compared to the other three methods. Quantitative comparison is undertaken using synthetic sea-surface height fields. The WHOSE method and the contour method are found to perform well even in the presence of a strong eddy field. In contrast, the standard gradient thresholding and PDF methods only perform well in high signal-to-noise ratio situations. The WHOSE, PDF, and the contour methods are then applied to data from the eddy-resolving Ocean General Circulation Model for the Earth Simulator. While the three methods are in broad agreement on the location of the main ACC jets, the nature of the jet fields they produce differ. In particular, the WHOSE method reveals a fine-scale jet field with complex braiding behavior. It is argued that this fine-scale jet field may affect the calculation of eddy diffusivities. Finally, recommendations based on this study are made. The WHOSE and gradient thresholding methods are more suitable for the study of jets as localized strong currents, useful for studies of tracer fluxes. The contour and PDF methods are recommended for studies linking jets to hydrographic fronts. Key Points Different methods for detecting ACC jets reveal differing jet structures Methods from signal processing can improve jet detection techniques Some methods fail in the presence of strong eddy fields.


Publication title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 American Geophysical Union

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Oceanic processes (excl. in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean)