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Ocean Science and Engineering


Sea level studies in the Mississippi Bight (MSB) are less abundant than in other coastal waters of USA. This study investigates the subinertial (time scales >2 days) sea level anomalies in the MSB shelf. The diagnostics of the terms in the invariant form of the momentum equation were computed to determine which terms have the most influence on the anomalies in sea level. It was determined that at subinertial scales the geostrophic balance is the dominant balance in the MSB while the non-linear and time derivative terms are insignificant relative to the Coriolis term. A Least Squares procedure was applied to the subinertial surface currents data from high frequency radar surface currents (filtered with a window of 2-day Butterworth filter) to extract subinertial sea level anomalies in the MSB shelf using both geostrophic balance and the invariant form of Reynolds' averaged momentum equations. The resulting subinertial sea level anomalies were validated using sea level observations from an offshore buoy and Sentinel-3 along-track satellite altimeter data. The estimated sea level anomalies were reasonably close to observations (more than half had root mean square difference of <0.04 m) and mostly influenced by geostrophic balance. Analysis of the empirical orthogonal functions showed that the first two modes explained the majority (85%) of the variance in the sea level anomalies estimated using the geostrophic approximation. Absolute sea level could be estimated if Global Navigation Satellite System buoys are deployed in the radar footprint.


Uchenna Nwankwo et al, 2023, Subinertial Sea Surface Heights Anomalies Estimated Using High Frequency Radar Surface Current Data in the Mississippi Bight., Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 128, Citation number, 10.1029/2022JC019055. To view the published open abstract, go to

Publication Title

JGR Oceans





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