Global dataset of thermohaline staircases obtained from Argo floats and Ice-Tethered Profilers

Carine G. Van Der Boog*, J.O. Koetsier, Henk A. Dijkstra, Julie D. Pietrzak, Caroline A. Katsman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Thermohaline staircases are associated with double-diffusive mixing. They are characterized by stepped structures consisting of mixed layers of typically tens of metres thick that are separated by much thinner interfaces. Through these interfaces enhanced diapycnal salt and heat transport take place. In this study, we present a global dataset of thermohaline staircases derived from observations of Argo profiling floats and Ice-Tethered Profilers using a novel detection algorithm. To establish the presence of thermohaline staircases, the algorithm detects subsurface mixed layers and analyses the interfaces in between. Of each detected staircase, the conservative temperature, absolute salinity, depth, and height, as well as some other properties of the mixed layers and interfaces, are computed. The algorithm is applied to 487 493 quality-controlled temperature and salinity profiles to obtain a global dataset. The performance of the algorithm is verified through an analysis of independent regional observations. The algorithm and global dataset are available at

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-61
Number of pages19
JournalEarth System Science Data
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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