Lagrangian transport is a difficult oceanographic problem for which solutions are frequently needed. Sensitivity to initial conditions or the precision of the velocity field requires more attention to detail than what we are usually able to afford. In a quest to bypass these complications, we ask if it is possible to find structures that evolve slowly relative to Lagrangian timescales yet tend to organize transport. A relatively simple approach capitalizing on recent advances in the theory of Lagrangian Coherent Structures finds such structures successfully. We reach this conclusion by direct comparisons with models and observations, and indirect comparisons with several observational and numerical studies. Our work shows that it is possible to find quasi-steady, general patterns that describe prominent aspects of the inherently time-dependent, chaotic problem of oceanic Lagrangian transport—this appraises new applications as practical.
This work is in collaboration with F.J. Beron-Vera and M.J. Olascoaga (U. Miami).
The paper developing this method is freely available at:
Papers confirming these findings include: