Articles | Volume 15, issue 10
31 Oct 1997
31 Oct 1997

Assessment of the ocean circulation in the Azores region as predicted by a numerical model assimilating altimeter data from Topex/Poseidon and ERS-1 satellites

T. Mailly, E. Blayo, and J. Verron

Abstract. Two years of altimetric data from Topex/Poseidon (October 1992–September 1994) and ERS-1 (October 1992–December 1993) were assimilated into a numerical model of the North Atlantic. The results of these simulations are analysed in the Azores region to assess the performance of our model in this particular region. Maps of instantaneous dynamic topography and transports show that the model performs well in reproducing the velocities and transports of the Azores Front. Drifter data from the Semaphore experiment are also used to study the correlation between the drifter velocities and the corresponding model velocities. Some interesting oceanographic results are also obtained by examining the seasonal and interannual variability of the circulation and the influence of bathymetry on the variability of the Azores Front. Thus, on the basis of our two year experiment, it is possible to confirm the circulation patterns proposed by previous studies regarding the seasonal variations in the origin of the Azores Current. Moreover, it is shown that the Azores Current is quite narrow in the first year of assimilation (1992–1993), but becomes much wider in the second year (1993–1994). The role of the bathymetry appears important in this area since the mesoscale activity is shown to be strongly related to the presence of topographic slopes. Finally, spectral analyses of sea-level changes over time and space are used to identify two types of wave already noticed in other studies: a wave with (300 km)–1 wave number and (120 days)–1 frequency, which is characteristic of mesoscale undulation, and a wave with (600 km)–1 wave number and (250 days)–1 frequency which probably corresponds to a Rossby wave generated in the east of the basin.