Observations and numerical simulations of large-eddy circulation in the ocean surface mixed layer
Sundermeyer, Miles A.
Skyllingstad, Eric D.
Ledwell, James R.
Terray, Eugene A.
Pierce, Stephen D.
Cervantes, Brandy T. Kuebel
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Two near-surface dye releases were mapped on scales of minutes to hours temporally, meters to order 1 km horizontally, and 1–20 m vertically using a scanning, depth-resolving airborne lidar. In both cases, dye evolved into a series of rolls with their major axes approximately aligned with the wind and/or near-surface current. In both cases, roll spacing was also of order 5–10 times the mixed layer depth, considerably larger than the 1–2 aspect ratio expected for Langmuir cells. Numerical large-eddy simulations under similar forcing showed similar features, even without Stokes drift forcing. In one case, inertial shear driven by light winds induced large aspect ratio large-eddy circulation. In the second, a preexisting lateral mixed layer density gradient provided the dominant forcing. In both cases, the growth of the large-eddy structures and the strength of the resulting dispersion were highly dependent on the type of forcing.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2014. 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 41 (2014): 7584–7590, doi:10.1002/2014GL061637.
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