Skip to Main Content
We focus on inverting the surface temperature (or heat) equation to obtain the surface velocity field in the coastal ocean and compare the results with those from the maximum cross correlation (MCC) technique and with the in situ velocity fields measured by the Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Dynamics Radar (CODAR). When compared with CODAR fields, velocities from the heat equation and MCC have comparable accuracies, but the heat equation technique better resolves the finer scale flow features. We use the results to directly calculate the surface divergence and vorticity. This is possible because we convert the traditionally underdetermined heat inversion problem to an overdetermined one without constraining the velocity field with divergence, vorticity, or energy statements. Because no a priori assumptions are made about the vorticity, it can be calculated directly from the velocity results. The derived vorticity field has typical open-ocean magnitudes ( ~ 5 times 10-5/s) and exhibits several structures (a warm core ring, Gulf Stream filament, and a diverging flow) consistent with the types of flows required to kinematically deform the sea surface temperature patterns into the observed configurations.