EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Mean and eddy kinetic energy of the Gulf Stream from multiyear underwater glider surveys

Robert E. Todd
Robert E. Todd
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Physical Oceanography, United States of America (

Subtropical western boundary currents play a key role in ocean energy storage and transport and are characterized by elevated mean and eddy kinetic energy. Due to a lack of spatially broad subsurface observations of velocity, most studies of kinetic energy in western boundary currents have relied on satellite-based estimates of surface geostrophic velocity. Since 2015, Spray autonomous underwater gliders have completed more than 175 crossings of the Gulf Stream distributed over more than 1,500 km in along-stream extent between between Miami, FL (~25°N) and Cape Cod, MA (~40°N). The observations include roughly 14,000 absolute ocean velocity profiles in the upper 1000 m. Novel three-dimensional estimates of mean and eddy kinetic energy are constructed along the western margin of the North Atlantic at 10-m vertical resolution. The horizontal and vertical distributions of mean and eddy kinetic energy are analyzed in light of existing independent estimates and theoretical expectations. Observation-based estimates of mean and eddy-kinetic energy such as these serve as important metrics for validation of global circulation models that must adequately represent western boundary currents.

How to cite: Todd, R. E.: Mean and eddy kinetic energy of the Gulf Stream from multiyear underwater glider surveys, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3745,, 2020


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