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ArticleTransformation and upwelling of bottom water in fracture zone valleys(American Meteorological Society, 2020-03-03) Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Clément, Louis ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Ferrari, Raffaele ; Ijichi, TakashiClosing the overturning circulation of bottom water requires abyssal transformation to lighter densities and upwelling. Where and how buoyancy is gained and water is transported upward remain topics of debate, not least because the available observations generally show downward-increasing turbulence levels in the abyss, apparently implying mean vertical turbulent buoyancy-flux divergence (densification). Here, we synthesize available observations indicating that bottom water is made less dense and upwelled in fracture zone valleys on the flanks of slow-spreading midocean ridges, which cover more than one-half of the seafloor area in some regions. The fracture zones are filled almost completely with water flowing up-valley and gaining buoyancy. Locally, valley water is transformed to lighter densities both in thin boundary layers that are in contact with the seafloor, where the buoyancy flux must vanish to match the no-flux boundary condition, and in thicker layers associated with downward-decreasing turbulence levels below interior maxima associated with hydraulic overflows and critical-layer interactions. Integrated across the valley, the turbulent buoyancy fluxes show maxima near the sidewall crests, consistent with net convergence below, with little sensitivity of this pattern to the vertical structure of the turbulence profiles, which implies that buoyancy flux convergence in the layers with downward-decreasing turbulence levels dominates over the divergence elsewhere, accounting for the net transformation to lighter densities in fracture zone valleys. We conclude that fracture zone topography likely exerts a controlling influence on the transformation and upwelling of bottom water in many areas of the global ocean.
DatasetHow variable is mixing efficiency in the abyss?(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2020-03-02) Ijichi, Takashi ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Polzin, Kurt L. ; Toole, John M.This directory contains BBTRE/DoMORE processed data (“all_BBTRE.mat” and “all_DoMORE.mat”) that was used to produce all figures in the above research letter. Each mat file has two structure arrays named “location” and “patch10”. The “location” array includes microstructure profile information used in this study (Table D1). The “patch10” array includes 10-m patch-wise parameter estimates used in this study (Table D2). Note that bulk averaged parameters can be constructed from parameters saved in “patch10” (see the above paper).
ArticleHow variable is mixing efficiency in the abyss?(American Geophysical Union, 2020-03-28) Ijichi, Takashi ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Polzin, Kurt L. ; Toole, John M.Mixing efficiency is an important turbulent flow property in fluid dynamics, whose variability potentially affects the large‐scale ocean circulation. However, there are several confusing definitions. Here we compare and contrast patch‐wise versus bulk estimates of mixing efficiency in the abyss by revisiting data from previous extensive field surveys in the Brazil Basin. Observed patch‐wise efficiency is highly variable over a wide range of turbulence intensity. Bulk efficiency is dominated by rare extreme turbulence events. In the case where enhanced near‐bottom turbulence is thought to be driven by breaking of small‐scale internal tides, the estimated bulk efficiency is 20%, close to the conventional value of 17%. On the other hand, where enhanced near‐bottom turbulence appears to be convectively driven by hydraulic overflows, bulk efficiency is suggested to be as large as 45%, which has implications for a further significant role of overflow mixing on deep‐water mass transformation.
ArticleMoored turbulence measurements using pulse-coherent doppler sonar(American Meteorological Society, 2021-09-01) Zippel, Seth F. ; Farrar, J. Thomas ; Zappa, Christopher J. ; Miller, Una ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Ijichi, Takashi ; Weller, Robert A. ; McRaven, Leah T. ; Nylund, Sven ; Le Bel, DeborahUpper-ocean turbulence is central to the exchanges of heat, momentum, and gases across the air–sea interface and therefore plays a large role in weather and climate. Current understanding of upper-ocean mixing is lacking, often leading models to misrepresent mixed layer depths and sea surface temperature. In part, progress has been limited by the difficulty of measuring turbulence from fixed moorings that can simultaneously measure surface fluxes and upper-ocean stratification over long time periods. Here we introduce a direct wavenumber method for measuring turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rates ϵ from long-enduring moorings using pulse-coherent ADCPs. We discuss optimal programming of the ADCPs, a robust mechanical design for use on a mooring to maximize data return, and data processing techniques including phase-ambiguity unwrapping, spectral analysis, and a correction for instrument response. The method was used in the Salinity Processes Upper-Ocean Regional Study (SPURS) to collect two year-long datasets. We find that the mooring-derived TKE dissipation rates compare favorably to estimates made nearby from a microstructure shear probe mounted to a glider during its two separate 2-week missions for O(10−8) ≤ ϵ ≤ O(10−5) m2 s−3. Periods of disagreement between turbulence estimates from the two platforms coincide with differences in vertical temperature profiles, which may indicate that barrier layers can substantially modulate upper-ocean turbulence over horizontal scales of 1–10 km. We also find that dissipation estimates from two different moorings at 12.5 and at 7 m are in agreement with the surface buoyancy flux during periods of strong nighttime convection, consistent with classic boundary layer theory.