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Comparison Ocean Dynamics with a Regional Circulation Model and Improved Altimetry in the Northwestern Mediterranean

Bouffard Jérôme

Most urban development and economic activities around the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea occur in the coastal zone. Therefore, it is essential to better understand the physical processes which impact the coastal region dynamics. A first step is to improve the ability of modeling and forecasting the coastal ocean circulation through the development of observation systems and their integration into quality control processes of coastal circulation models. The spatial and temporal resolution of satellite altimetry is usually well adapted to the sampling of the sea surface topography of the deep ocean. However, the coastal ocean dynamics are much more complex, being characterized by a wide range of spatial and temporal scales of variability. The quality and availability of satellite-derived products along the coasts must be improved with a strategy optimized for coastal targets. Thus, a coastal multi-satellite altimetry data set (Topex/Poseidon, Jason1, Envisat, GFO) at a 10-20 Hz sample rate has been derived from routine geophysical data products using a new processing software dedicated to coastal zone application. The spatial and temporal scale accessible through this improved data set is then compared to 3D model elevations from 2001 to 2003 over the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea. This preparatory work emphasizes the potential of improved multi-satellite altimetry to validate coastal hydrodynamical models and will contribute further to better tune the boundary conditions of the simulations.