Guided Tour of Java OceanAtlas

Contour Plots

Java OceanAtlas provides a variety of contoured plots. The most commonly used are contour plots of parameters (i.e. sections of salinity, oxygen, etc.) with pressure as the vertical axis. To contour data Java OceanAtlas uses data interpolated onto standard levels of the parameter to be used as the vertical axis, but it does all the work in the background, i.e. while the plot is being generated. The Java OceanAtlas Contour Plot dialog box permits you to choose the 'Parameter' to be contoured, the 'Interpolation surface' or standard levels of the vertical axis parameter to interpolate upon, and the 'Color bar' scheme to be used, and also contains a wide range of optional plot customization features.

  • Pull down the Plots menu and select 'Contour...'. This will bring up the Contour Plot dialog box. Select SALT from the 'Parameter' column, and PRES-0-6000.srf from the list of 'Interpolation Surfaces'. From 'Color bars' scroll down the list until you can see SALT-global.cbr and select it. To have the contour plot show where the water samples were located select Observations from the 'Markers' choices, and to enable browsing of the contour plot select Show Cross Sections from the 'Other' choices. Figure 15 shows the Contour Plot dialog box as it should appear from these selections.
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    Figure 15 OceanAtlas Contour Plot dialog box, with selections prepared for a solid color (Color fill under 'Style') contour plot of salinity on a full-depth (0-6000 decibar) pressure range, colored in accord with the 'SALT-global' color bar, with browsing ('Show cross sections') enabled.

  • Now click 'Plot' and the contour plot will be drawn. See Figure 16.
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    Figure 16 Contour plot of salinity versus pressure for the Atlantic 11°S data set, set up as in Figure 15.

    There are five segments to the plot window in Figure 16: the contoured plot, a color/contour bar, a vertical profile, a cross-section profile, and a data display. The contoured plot begins with the first station in the data set (in these data the west-most station) and ends with the last (in this case east-most), with the relative station-to-station separation proportional in this case to the distance between stations. The color transitions correspond to the selected salinity color bar. The ocean bottom was read from the data set, converted to 'pressure', and plotted.

  • If you use the arrow keys on your keyboard, you will discover the vertical and horizontal browsing lines. These 'cut through' the gridded data to create the vertical and cross section profiles shown in the window segments to the right and bottom of the contour plot, i.e. these profile windows show vertical and horizontal plots of the data along the browsing lines, and the data display at the lower right provides information germane to these plots.
  • Double-clicking on the contour plot brings up a dialog box to make changes, for example to the Y-axis range and in some of the display options. And double-clicking on either of the cross section plots brings up dialog boxes to adjust scales.
  • Try browsing this plot, using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Notice how the profiles in the side and top panels work? Also try clicking on the image of the section in the main Data Window. See how the browser cross-hairs move? All open plots and the data window are linked, although in the case of contour plots, which are contoured interpolations onto standard surfaces, Java OceanAtlas can only make the closest match to the nearest observation.

The contoured salinity plot (Figure 16) shows the high salinity surface waters, strong salinity minimum from the Antarctic Intermediate Water, weaker but broad and western-intensified deep salinity maximum, and the lower-salinity bottom waters from the Antarctic. Notice how the Mid-Atlantic Ridge divides the deepest waters: the relatively fresh (and cold) Antarctic Bottom Water signal is very much stronger on the western side of the section (in the Brazil Basin) than it is on the eastern side (in the Angola Basin). This is an unmistakable sign that east of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge the deepest waters are geographically - oceanographers would say 'bathymetrically' - more nearly isolated from the source of Antarctic Bottom Water than is the case west of the ridge. Indeed, if you take a look at a bathymetric chart of the South Atlantic Ocean (your station map [Figure 3] should be adequate), you will see that the Angola Basin is bounded on the south by the Walvis Ridge, without a deep passage to the Antarctic circumpolar zone, whereas the Brazil Basin has a much deeper connection to the south.

If you would like to learn more about the characteristics of the ocean waters across the Atlantic 11°S section, make contour plots against pressure (the PRES-0-6000.srf works well) of potential temperature (THTA), dissolved oxygen (O2), silicate (SIO3), nitrate (NO3), and phophate (PO4). We designed the 'global' color bars for each parameter to show the primary features of each parameter over the World Ocean, so they are good choices. But also feel free to experiment with color bars, such as the choices under 'Create autoscale color bar'. The linear button there often produces good results. Our choices are usually not linear, and the equal-spaced divisions you get from a linear-autoscale color bar will help point out the principal gradients in each water property. We did not use linear ranges because for most properties the principal variation is in the upper-most layers, and so linear-autoscale color bars often do not reveal deep features as clearly as would custom color bars.