Altimetric signal and three-dimensional structure of the sea in the Channel of Sicily

Bruno Buongiorno Nardelli, Rosalia Santoleri, Daniele Iudicone, Simona Zoffoli, Salvatore Marullo

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The 1996 Altimeter/Synoptic Mesoscale Plancton Experiment (ALT/SYMPLEX) was specifically designed to perform in situ measurements simultaneous with the passage of TOPEX/POSEIDON (T/P) and ERS 2 over selected tracks in the central and eastern Sicily Channel. This experiment made it possible to have, for the first time, a validation of altimetry with in situ data over the Mediterranean, where weak dynamics results in a modest sea elevation, rarely exceeding 10 cm. Historical infrared and altimetric satellite data were first analyzed in order to study the variability of the circulation in the area. The comparative and integrative analysis of simultaneous satellite data and in situ measurements permitted investigation of the relation between the altimeter-derived surface topography and the three-dimensional structure of the sea. The Pearson correlation coefficients between altimeter data and dynamic heights along track resulted to be 0.72-0.89 (T/P) and 0.88 (ERS 2) when using conventional repeat track analysis. For T/P, a correlation value of 0.87 was found for time differences computed basing on a collinear analysis technique. This analysis also led to the identification of a strong barotropic component of the velocity field located near the Sicilian continental shelf, where it is responsible for approximately 60% of the signal. Copyright 1999 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1999JC900103
Pages (from-to)20585 - 20603
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberC9
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

Nardelli, B. B., Santoleri, R., Iudicone, D., Zoffoli, S., & Marullo, S. (1999). Altimetric signal and three-dimensional structure of the sea in the Channel of Sicily. Journal of Geophysical Research, 104(C9), 20585 - 20603. [1999JC900103].