09 May 2022
09 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Applying dynamical systems techniques to real ocean drifters

Irina I. Rypina1, Timothy Getscher2, Lawrence Pratt1, and Tamay Ozgokmen3 Irina I. Rypina et al.
  • 1Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole rd., Woods Hole, MA 02540
  • 2US Navy
  • 3Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, U. of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149

Abstract. This paper presents the first comprehensive comparison of several different dynamical-systems-based measures of stirring and Lagrangian coherence, computed from real ocean drifters. Seven commonly used methods (finite-time Lyapunov exponent, trajectory path length, trajectory correlation dimension, trajectory encounter volume, Lagrangian-averaged vorticity deviation, dilation, and spectral clustering) were applied to 135 surface drifters in the Gulf of Mexico in order to map out the dominant Lagrangian coherent structures. Among the detected structures were regions of hyperbolic nature resembling stable manifolds from classical examples, divergent and convergent zones, and groups of drifters that moved more coherently and stayed closer together than the rest of the drifters. Many methods highlighted the same structures, but there were differences too. Overall, 5 out of 7 methods provided useful information about the geometry of transport within the domain spanned by the drifters.

Irina I. Rypina et al.

Status: open (until 04 Jul 2022)

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Irina I. Rypina et al.

Irina I. Rypina et al.


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Short summary
This paper applies different Lagrangian methods to identify Lagrangian Coherent Structures based on trajectories of 135 ocean surface drifters from the massive drifter release in the Gulf of Mexico. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive comparison of the performance of several different dynamical systems techniques with applications to real ocean drifters.