Marine Science Faculty Publications

Sea Surface Temperature Patterns on the West Florida Shelf Using Growing Hierarchical Self-Organizing Maps

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Neural network analyses based on the self-organizing map (SOM) and the growing hierarchical self-organizing map (GHSOM) are used to examine patterns of the sea surface temperature (SST) variability on the West Florida Shelf from time series of daily SST maps from 1998 to 2002. Four characteristic SST patterns are extracted in the first-layer GHSOM array: winter and summer season patterns, and two transitional patterns. Three of them are further expanded in the second layer, yielding more detailed structures in these seasons. The winter pattern is one of low SST, with isotherms aligned approximately along isobaths. The summer pattern is one of high SST distributed in a horizontally uniform manner. The spring transition includes a midshelf cold tongue. Similar analyses performed on SST anomaly data provide further details of these seasonally varying patterns. It is demonstrated that the GHSOM analysis is more effective in extracting the inherent SST patterns than the widely used EOF method. The underlying patterns in a dataset can be visualized in the SOM array in the same form as the original data, while they can only be expressed in anomaly form in the EOF analysis. Some important features, such as asymmetric SST anomaly patterns of winter/summer and cold/warm tongues, can be revealed by the SOM array but cannot be identified in the lowest mode EOF patterns. Also, unlike the EOF or SOM techniques, the hierarchical structure in the input data can be extracted by the GHSOM analysis.

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Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, v. 23, issue 2, p. 325-338