Articles | Volume 27, issue 4
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 27, 501–518, 2020
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-27-501-2020
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 27, 501–518, 2020
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-27-501-2020

Research article 14 Nov 2020

Research article | 14 Nov 2020

Detecting flow features in scarce trajectory data using networks derived from symbolic itineraries: an application to surface drifters in the North Atlantic

David Wichmann et al.

Data sets

Global Drifter Program quality-controlled 6-hour interpolated data from ocean surface drifting buoys R. Lumpkin, and L. Centurioni https://doi.org/10.25921/7ntx-z961

Model code and software

drifter_trajectories_network OceanParcels https://github.com/OceanParcels/drifter_trajectories_network

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Short summary
The surface transport of heat, nutrients and plastic in the North Atlantic Ocean is organized into large-scale flow structures. We propose a new and simple method to detect such features in ocean drifter data sets by identifying groups of trajectories with similar dynamical behaviour using network theory. We successfully detect well-known regions such as the Subpolar and Subtropical gyres, the Western Boundary Current region and the Caribbean Sea.