Improved description of global mixed-layer depth using Argo profiling floats

Shigeki Hosoda, Tsuyoshi Ohira, Kanako Sato, Toshio Suga

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111 Citations (Scopus)


A global data set describing the gridded mixed-layer depth (MLD) in 10-day intervals was produced using high-quality Argo float data from 2001 to 2009. The characteristics and advantages provided by the new MLD data set are described here, including a comparison based on two different thresholds and using data sets of different vertical and temporal resolution. The MLD in the data set was estimated on the basis of a shallower depth of the iso-thermal layer (TLD) or iso-pycnal layer (PLD), calculated using the finite difference method. The MLD data are incorporated into 2° × 2° grid in the global ocean, including marginal seas. Also, two threshold values were used to examine differences in the MLD and its seasonal temporal variability. The characteristics and advantages of using the Argo 10-day intervals to determine the MLD were then confirmed by comparing those data with the station buoy daily means and the Argo monthly means. With respect to vertical and temporal resolutions, the Argo 10-day data has two distinct advantages: (1) improved representation of the MLD vertical change due to high vertical resolution, especially during periods of large MLD variability and (2) more detailed representation of the temporal change in MLD than achieved with the Argo monthly mean data, especially from winter to spring in mid and high latitudes. These advantages were maintained in the case of a larger threshold despite the fact that the MLD is rather deep and the detailed variation in its distribution differs depending on the season and location. This study also investigated the relative influence of TLD and PLD to the MLD calculation for each grid. Generally, the MLD is primarily determined based on the PLD at low and mid latitudes (TLD > PLD), whereas the TLD is more important at high latitudes, especially in winter (TLD < PLD). In the case of a larger threshold, the area of the larger PLD influence spreads polewards because of the greater effect of salinity in winter. Although there are some differences in the effect of temperature and salinity in estimations of the MLD, both are indispensable factors for the MLD estimations even at different thresholds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-787
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Oceanography
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec


  • Argo
  • global data set
  • Mixed layer depth


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