Tropical Pacific Drifting Buoys
Rick Lumpkin / Mayra Pazos, AOML, Miami
During March 2014, 267 satellite-tracked surface drifting buoys, 89% with
subsurface drogues attached for measuring mixed layer currents, were reporting
from the tropical Pacific. In the eastern near-equatorial at ~120W, a cluster
of closely-spaced drifters moved very quickly eastward, 50 cm/s faster than
climatological February currents, likely in response to a mesoscale feature
such as a TIW. Elsewhere, currents were closer to their climatological mean
values except in the southwest tropical Pacific, where drifters moved westward
at 5-15 cm/s faster than normal.
a) Top: Movements of drifting buoys in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
The linear segments of each trajectory represent a one week displacement.
Trajectories of buoys which have lost their subsurface drogues are gray; those with
drogues are blue.
b) Middle: Monthly mean currents calculated from all buoys 1993-2010 (gray),
and currents measured by the drogued buoys this month (black) smoothed by an
c) Bottom: Anomalies from the climatological monthly mean currents for this month.