# Does bathymetry affect ocean topography/height?

Here is a map of ocean surface height or topography:

How significant is the bathymetry or seabed elevation in shaping the surface topography? What are the major causes of variations in the topography?

• What do you mean by the surface topography? Do you mean the sea surface height? Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 8:08
• Sea surface height is largely affected by winds "piling up" water and effects due to Earth's rotation, from what I recollect, but I am not completely sure of this. Anyone else know if this is correct? Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 10:19
• Sounds logic mtb-za.Probably the centrifugal force also plays it's role to push water from the poles towards the equator? Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 11:24
• @gansub The source has been added back. It got lost in the series of edits. Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 17:47
• Title and final Q are different. Yes you can detect seabed topography from surface height. However, it is not a big effect compared to the other processes being discussed in the answers. Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 12:33

Oceanic topography of the sea surface $\zeta$ can be defined as the height of the sea surface relative to a particular level surface, the geoid. The geoid to be the level surface that coincided with the surface of the ocean at rest (a list of geoids with application to oceanography can be found in Talone et al., 2014).
In the image you provide what you have is "dynamic height" and thus is a deviation from the geoid and the result of oceanic currents. By knowing the dynamic height, we can get an idea of the surface geostrophic current: $\mathrm{u_s= − {g\over f} {\delta\zeta\over\delta y}}$; $\mathrm{v_s= − {g\over f} { \delta\zeta\over\delta x}}$ where f is the Coriolis parameter, g is gravity, and $\zeta$ is the height of the sea surface above the level surface (geoid).