New insight into 3-D mesoscale eddy properties from CMEMS operational models in the western Mediterranean
Rapid evolution of operational ocean forecasting systems is driven by advances in numerics and data assimilation schemes, and increase of in situ and satellite observations. The Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS) is a major provider of operational products that are made available through an online catalogue. The service includes global and regional forecasts in near-real-time and reanalysis modes. Here, we apply an eddy tracker to daily sea surface height (SSH) fields from three such reanalysis products from the CMEMS catalogue, with the objective to evaluate their performance in terms of their eddy properties and three-dimensional composite structures over the 2013–2016 period. The products are (i) the Global Analysis Forecast, (ii) the Mediterranean Analysis Forecast and (iii) the Iberia–Biscay–Ireland Analysis Forecast. The common domain between these reanalyses is the western Mediterranean Sea (WMED) between the Strait of Gibraltar and Sardinia. This is a complex region with strong density gradients, especially in the Alboran Sea in the west where Atlantic and Mediterranean waters compete. Surface eddy property maps over the WMED of eddy radii, amplitudes and nonlinearity are consistent between the models, as well as with gridded altimetric data that serve as a reference. Mean 3-D eddy composites are shown only for three subregions in the Alboran Sea. These are mostly consistent between the models, with minor differences being attributed to details of the respective model configurations. This information can be informative for the ongoing development of these CMEMS operational modeling systems. The mesoscale data provided here may be of interest to CMEMS users and in the future could be a useful addition to a more diverse CMEMS catalogue.