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

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Cited articles

Banisch, R. and Koltai, P.: Understanding the geometry of transport: Diffusion maps for Lagrangian trajectory data unravel coherent sets, Chaos: An Interdisc. J. Nonlin. Sci., 27, 035804,, 2017. a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m
Banisch, R., Koltai, P., and Padberg-Gehle, K.: Network measures of mixing, Chaos: An Interdisc. J. Nonlin. Sci., 29, 063125,, 2019. a
Beal, L. M. and Elipot, S.: Broadening not strengthening of the Agulhas Current since the early 1990s, Nature, 540, 570–573,, 2016. a
Bower, A., Lozier, S., Biastoch, A., Drouin, K., Foukal, N., Furey, H., Lankhorst, M., Rühs, S., and Zou, S.: Lagrangian views of the pathways of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans, 124, 5313–5335,, 2019. a, b
Brambilla, E. and Talley, L. D.: Surface drifter exchange between the North Atlantic subtropical and subpolar gyres, J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans, 111, C07026,, 2006. a, b
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.