How reliable are Finite-Size Lyapunov Exponents for the assessment of ocean dynamics?

Hernandez-Carrasco, Ismael; López, Cristóbal; Hernández-García, Emilio; Turiel, Antonio
Ocean Modelling 36, 208-218 (2011)

Much of atmospheric and oceanic transport is associated with coherent structures.
Lagrangian methods are emerging as optimal tools
for their identification and analysis.
An important Lagrangian technique which is starting to be widely used in
oceanography is that of Finite-Size Lyapunov Exponents (FSLEs).
Despite this growing relevance there are still many open questions concerning
the reliability of the FSLEs in order to analyse the ocean dynamics.
In particular, it is still unclear how robust they are when confronted with real data.
In this paper we analyze the effect on this Lagrangian technique
of the two most important effects when facing real data,
namely noise and dynamics of unsolved scales.
Our results, using as a benchmarch data from a primitive numerical
model of the Mediterranean Sea, show that even when some dynamics
is missed the FSLEs results still give an accurate picture of the oceanic transport properties.

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