Articles | Volume 27, issue 4
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, Christian Kehl, Henk A. Dijkstra, and Erik van Sebille

Data sets

Global Drifter Program quality-controlled 6-hour interpolated data from ocean surface drifting buoys R. Lumpkin, and L. Centurioni

Model code and software

drifter_trajectories_network OceanParcels

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.