Fully normalized spherical cap harmonics: Application to the analysis of sea-level data from TOPEX/POSEIDON and ERS-1

Chein-way Hwang*, Shin Kuen Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

We introduce two sets of fully normalized harmonics for the spectral analysis of functions defined on a spherical cap. The harmonics are the products of Fourier functions and the fully normalized associated Legendre functions of non-integer degree. Using Sturm-Liouville theory for boundary-value problems, we present two convenient and stable formulae for computing the zeros of the associated Legendre functions that form two sets of orthogonal functions. Formulae for the stable numerical evaluation of the fully normalized associated Legendre functions of non-integer degree that avoid the gamma function are also derived. The result from the expansions of sea-level anomaly from altimetry into Set 2 fully normalized cap harmonics shows fast convergence of the series, and the degree variances decay rapidly without aliasing effects. The zero-degree coefficients (Set 2) of sea-level anomaly from TOPEX/POSEIDON (T/P) and ERS-1 indicate an El Niño event during 1993 January-1993 July, and a La Niña event during 1993 November-1994 July, although the ERS-1 result is less obvious. Ocean circulations over the South China Sea and the Kuroshio area are clearly identified with the low-degree expansions of sea-surface topography (SST) from T/P and ERS-1. A cold-core eddy of 4° in diameter centred at 17.5°N, 118°E was detected with the expansion of SST from T/P cycle 47, and a property of the cap harmonics is used to compute this eddy's kinetic energy. The kinetic energy is at a low in winter and high in summer, and its variation seems to be periodic with an amplitude of 0.4 m2 s -2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)450-460
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Volume129
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1997

Keywords

  • Satellite geodesy
  • Sea-level
  • Spectral analysis
  • Spherical harmonics

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