Acoustic mapping of mixed layer depth
Journal article, 2018

The ocean surface mixed layer is a nearly universal feature of the world oceans. Variations in the depth of the mixed layer (MLD) influences the exchange of heat, fresh water (through evaporation), and gases between the atmosphere and the ocean and constitutes one of the major factors controlling ocean primary production as it affects the vertical distribution of biological and chemical components in near-surface waters. Direct observations of the MLD are traditionally made by means of conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) casts. However, CTD instrument deployment limits the observation of temporal and spatial variability in the MLD. Here, we present an alternative method in which acoustic mapping of the MLD is done remotely by means of commercially available ship-mounted echo sounders. The method is shown to be highly accurate when the MLD is well defined and biological scattering does not dominate the acoustic returns. These prerequisites are often met in the open ocean and it is shown that the method is successful in 95% of data collected in the central Arctic Ocean. The primary advantages of acoustically mapping the MLD over CTD measurements are (1) considerably higher temporal and horizontal resolutions and (2) potentially larger spatial coverage.


Christian Stranne

Stockholm University

Larry Mayer

University of New Hampshire

Martin Jakobsson

Stockholm University

Elizabeth Weidner

University of New Hampshire

Kevin Jerram

University of New Hampshire

Thomas C. Weber

University of New Hampshire

Leif G. Anderson

University of Gothenburg

Johan Nilsson

Stockholm University

Goran Bjork

University of Gothenburg

Katarina Gårdfeldt

Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Energy and Material

Chalmers, Centre for Environment and Sustainability (GMV)

Ocean Science

1812-0784 (ISSN)

Vol. 14 3 503-514

Subject Categories

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

Geosciences, Multidisciplinary



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