Acoustic mapping of mixed layer depth
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 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.