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Deep-ocean mixing driven by small-scale internal tides

Deep-ocean mixing driven by small-scale internal tides
Deep-ocean mixing driven by small-scale internal tides

Turbulent mixing in the ocean is key to regulate the transport of heat, freshwater and biogeochemical tracers, with strong implications for Earth’s climate. In the deep ocean, tides supply much of the mechanical energy required to sustain mixing via the generation of internal waves, known as internal tides, whose fate—the relative importance of their local versus remote breaking into turbulence—remains uncertain. Here, we combine a semi-analytical model of internal tide generation with satellite and in situ measurements to show that from an energetic viewpoint, small-scale internal tides, hitherto overlooked, account for the bulk (>50%) of global internal tide generation, breaking and mixing. Furthermore, we unveil the pronounced geographical variations of their energy proportion, ignored by current parameterisations of mixing in climate-scale models. Based on these results, we propose a physically consistent, observationally supported approach to accurately represent the dissipation of small-scale internal tides and their induced mixing in climate-scale models.

2041-1723
Vic, Clément
408e7f4a-468f-4139-90a6-3a95228ad758
Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.
97c0e923-f076-4b38-b89b-938e11cea7a6
Green, J. A.Mattias
8996542a-c358-4c2a-bf57-77892943f491
Waterhouse, Amy F.
f08abcd9-59c1-427a-9853-ffe788ff1732
Zhao, Zhongxiang
c00ead2b-cfea-46d0-8883-b226e792c29d
Melet, Angélique
ed4548fe-e0f0-48e9-8741-6eb5811166a6
de Lavergne, Casimir
fb15659a-82a1-4bf0-8cda-504f90a2f029
Buijsman, Maarten C.
e68c5dad-2721-484b-94b6-a8aa1126efa4
Stephenson, Gordon R.
6ba0136d-b0f0-4136-9955-c11e89c82a22
Vic, Clément
408e7f4a-468f-4139-90a6-3a95228ad758
Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.
97c0e923-f076-4b38-b89b-938e11cea7a6
Green, J. A.Mattias
8996542a-c358-4c2a-bf57-77892943f491
Waterhouse, Amy F.
f08abcd9-59c1-427a-9853-ffe788ff1732
Zhao, Zhongxiang
c00ead2b-cfea-46d0-8883-b226e792c29d
Melet, Angélique
ed4548fe-e0f0-48e9-8741-6eb5811166a6
de Lavergne, Casimir
fb15659a-82a1-4bf0-8cda-504f90a2f029
Buijsman, Maarten C.
e68c5dad-2721-484b-94b6-a8aa1126efa4
Stephenson, Gordon R.
6ba0136d-b0f0-4136-9955-c11e89c82a22

Vic, Clément, Naveira Garabato, Alberto C., Green, J. A.Mattias, Waterhouse, Amy F., Zhao, Zhongxiang, Melet, Angélique, de Lavergne, Casimir, Buijsman, Maarten C. and Stephenson, Gordon R. (2019) Deep-ocean mixing driven by small-scale internal tides. Nature Communications, 10 (1), [2099]. (doi:10.1038/s41467-019-10149-5).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Turbulent mixing in the ocean is key to regulate the transport of heat, freshwater and biogeochemical tracers, with strong implications for Earth’s climate. In the deep ocean, tides supply much of the mechanical energy required to sustain mixing via the generation of internal waves, known as internal tides, whose fate—the relative importance of their local versus remote breaking into turbulence—remains uncertain. Here, we combine a semi-analytical model of internal tide generation with satellite and in situ measurements to show that from an energetic viewpoint, small-scale internal tides, hitherto overlooked, account for the bulk (>50%) of global internal tide generation, breaking and mixing. Furthermore, we unveil the pronounced geographical variations of their energy proportion, ignored by current parameterisations of mixing in climate-scale models. Based on these results, we propose a physically consistent, observationally supported approach to accurately represent the dissipation of small-scale internal tides and their induced mixing in climate-scale models.

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s41467-019-10149-5 - Version of Record
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 17 April 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 8 May 2019
Published date: 1 December 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 431084
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/431084
ISSN: 2041-1723
PURE UUID: e7c8beb0-3c07-4319-834c-5c00308962d5

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Date deposited: 23 May 2019 16:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 00:16

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