Meso-scale available gravitational potential energy in the world oceans Academic Article uri icon


  • The pitfalls of applying the commonly used definition of available gravitational potential energy ( AGPE) to the world oceans are re-examined. It is proposed that such definition should apply to the meso-scale problems in the oceans, not the global scale. Based on WOA98 climatological data, the meso-scale AGPE in the world oceans is estimated. Unlike previous results by Oort et al., the meso-scale AGPE is large wherever there is a strong horizontal density gradient. The distribution of meso-scale AGPE reveals the close connection between the baroclinic instability and the release of gravitational potential energy stored within the scale of Rossby deformation radius.

publication date

  • 2006