Significance of Langmuir circulation in upper ocean mixing : comparison of observations and simulations
Plueddemann, Albert J.
Trowbridge, John H.
Sullivan, Peter P.
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Representing upper ocean turbulence accurately in models remains a great challenge for improving weather and climate projections. Langmuir circulation (LC) is a turbulent process driven by wind and surface waves that plays a key role in transferring momentum, heat, and mass in the oceanic surface layer. We present a direct comparison between observations and large eddy simulations, based on the wave-averaged Navier-Stokes equation, of an LC growth event. The evolution of cross-wind velocity variance and spatial scales, as well as mixed layer deepening are only consistent with simulations if LC effects are included in the model. Our results offer a validation of the large eddy simulation approach to understanding LC dynamics, and demonstrate the importance of LC in ocean surface layer mixing.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2009. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 36 (2009): L10603, doi:10.1029/2009GL037620.
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