Estimates of the Southern Ocean general circulation improved by animal-borne instruments

Fabien Roquet*, Carl Wunsch, Gael Forget, Patrick Heimbach, Christophe Guinet, Gilles Reverdin, Jean Benoit Charrassin, Frederic Bailleul, Daniel P. Costa, Luis A. Huckstadt, Kimberly T. Goetz, Kit M. Kovacs, Christian Lydersen, Martin Biuw, Ole A. Nøst, Horst Bornemann, Joachim Ploetz, Marthan N. Bester, Trevor McIntyre, Monica C. MuelbertMark A. Hindell, Clive R. McMahon, Guy Williams, Robert Harcourt, Iain C. Field, Leon Chafik, Keith W. Nicholls, Lars Boehme, Mike A. Fedak

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    106 Citations (Scopus)


    Over the last decade, several hundred seals have been equipped with conductivity-temperature-depth sensors in the Southern Ocean for both biological and physical oceanographic studies. A calibrated collection of seal-derived hydrographic data is now available, consisting of more than 165,000 profiles. The value of these hydrographic data within the existing Southern Ocean observing system is demonstrated herein by conducting two state estimation experiments, differing only in the use or not of seal data to constrain the system. Including seal-derived data substantially modifies the estimated surface mixed-layer properties and circulation patterns within and south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Agreement with independent satellite observations of sea ice concentration is improved, especially along the East Antarctic shelf. Instrumented animals efficiently reduce a critical observational gap, and their contribution to monitoring polar climate variability will continue to grow as data accuracy and spatial coverage increase. Key Points A quality-controlled collection of seal-derived hydrographic data is presented The global value of seal data is assessed using a state estimation technique Seal data improve ocean circulation estimates in sea ice-covered regions

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6176-6180
    Number of pages5
    JournalGeophysical Research Letters
    Issue number23
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2013


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