Ray theory is used to predict phase and group velocities for long planetary waves under realistic, albeit slowly varying, oceanic conditions. The results are compared with local theory using fields smoothed to the same amount (9° latitude/longitude) as well as those with much less smoothing (1°). The agreement is excellent, showing that local theory forms a good proxy for ray theory results. The predicted speeds agree well with observations of planetary waves deduced from sea surface height data. The theory uses purely baroclinic mean flow; the inclusion of barotropic flow has little effect except at high latitudes
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