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Seasonality of submesoscale flows in the ocean surface boundary layer

Seasonality of submesoscale flows in the ocean surface boundary layer
Seasonality of submesoscale flows in the ocean surface boundary layer
A signature of submesoscale flows in the upper ocean is skewness in the distribution of relative vorticity. Expected to result for high Rossby-number flows, such skewness has implications for mixing, dissipation and stratification within the upper ocean. An array of moorings deployed in the Northeast Atlantic for one year as part of the OSMOSIS experiment reveals that relative vorticity is positively skewed during winter even though the scale of the Rossby number is less than 0.5. Furthermore, this skewness is reduced to zero during spring and autumn. There is also evidence of modest seasonal variations in the gradient Rossby number. The proposed mechanism by which relative vorticity is skewed is that the ratio of lateral to vertical buoyancy gradients, as summarized by the inverse gradient Richardson number, restricts its range during winter but less so at other times of the year. These results support recent observations and model simulations suggesting the upper ocean is host to a seasonal cycle in submesoscale turbulence.
Diurnal, seasonal, and annual cycles, Eddies and mesoscale processes, General circulation, Turbulence, diffusion, and mixing processes, Upper ocean and mixed layer processes, submesoscale, instabilities, mixed layer, vorticity, turbulence
0094-8276
2118-2126
Buckingham, Christian E.
dba7c776-a8c6-4617-ad40-7919dd4ab3dc
Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.
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Thompson, Andrew F.
e9e80aff-7fc6-41c7-bb32-d99afd8f3f71
Brannigan, Liam
6093fdb8-8cae-42ee-8a10-9ee87288fed3
Lazar, Ayah
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Marshall, David P.
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Nurser, A.J. George
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Damerell, Gillian
c92aca6a-1f80-407a-9e9e-97339570e294
Heywood, Karen J.
83d91436-76bc-4d55-ae41-9af6a6fc8869
Belcher, Stephen E.
2418e58c-7f4f-4890-ad8d-a89531f7f4d3
Buckingham, Christian E.
dba7c776-a8c6-4617-ad40-7919dd4ab3dc
Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.
97c0e923-f076-4b38-b89b-938e11cea7a6
Thompson, Andrew F.
e9e80aff-7fc6-41c7-bb32-d99afd8f3f71
Brannigan, Liam
6093fdb8-8cae-42ee-8a10-9ee87288fed3
Lazar, Ayah
df385613-a17f-4e77-beaf-1b07014dad5d
Marshall, David P.
70dddf0a-46d1-404f-aa8f-5fb9902ab587
Nurser, A.J. George
2493ef9a-21e9-4d8b-9c32-08677e7e145a
Damerell, Gillian
c92aca6a-1f80-407a-9e9e-97339570e294
Heywood, Karen J.
83d91436-76bc-4d55-ae41-9af6a6fc8869
Belcher, Stephen E.
2418e58c-7f4f-4890-ad8d-a89531f7f4d3

Buckingham, Christian E., Naveira Garabato, Alberto C., Thompson, Andrew F., Brannigan, Liam, Lazar, Ayah, Marshall, David P., Nurser, A.J. George, Damerell, Gillian, Heywood, Karen J. and Belcher, Stephen E. (2016) Seasonality of submesoscale flows in the ocean surface boundary layer. Geophysical Research Letters, 43 (5), 2118-2126. (doi:10.1002/2016GL068009).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A signature of submesoscale flows in the upper ocean is skewness in the distribution of relative vorticity. Expected to result for high Rossby-number flows, such skewness has implications for mixing, dissipation and stratification within the upper ocean. An array of moorings deployed in the Northeast Atlantic for one year as part of the OSMOSIS experiment reveals that relative vorticity is positively skewed during winter even though the scale of the Rossby number is less than 0.5. Furthermore, this skewness is reduced to zero during spring and autumn. There is also evidence of modest seasonal variations in the gradient Rossby number. The proposed mechanism by which relative vorticity is skewed is that the ratio of lateral to vertical buoyancy gradients, as summarized by the inverse gradient Richardson number, restricts its range during winter but less so at other times of the year. These results support recent observations and model simulations suggesting the upper ocean is host to a seasonal cycle in submesoscale turbulence.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 20 February 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 11 March 2016
Published date: 16 March 2016
Keywords: Diurnal, seasonal, and annual cycles, Eddies and mesoscale processes, General circulation, Turbulence, diffusion, and mixing processes, Upper ocean and mixed layer processes, submesoscale, instabilities, mixed layer, vorticity, turbulence
Organisations: Marine Systems Modelling, Physical Oceanography

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 388728
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/388728
ISSN: 0094-8276
PURE UUID: c7310cc0-9ea5-4d08-a599-ff656f463927

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Date deposited: 02 Mar 2016 10:34
Last modified: 14 Aug 2019 18:26

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Contributors

Author: Christian E. Buckingham
Author: Andrew F. Thompson
Author: Liam Brannigan
Author: Ayah Lazar
Author: David P. Marshall
Author: A.J. George Nurser
Author: Gillian Damerell
Author: Karen J. Heywood
Author: Stephen E. Belcher

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