Thurnherr Andreas M.

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Thurnherr
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Andreas M.
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  • Article
    Vertical kinetic energy and turbulent dissipation in the ocean
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-09-21) Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Kunze, Eric ; Toole, John M. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Richards, Kelvin J. ; Ruiz-Angulo, Angel
    Oceanic internal waves are closely linked to turbulence. Here a relationship between vertical wave number (kz) spectra of fine-scale vertical kinetic energy (VKE) and turbulent dissipation ε is presented using more than 250 joint profiles from five diverse dynamic regimes, spanning latitudes between the equator and 60°. In the majority of the spectra VKE varies as inline image. Scaling VKE with inline image collapses the off-equatorial spectra to within inline image but underestimates the equatorial spectrum. The simple empirical relationship between VKE and ε fits the data better than a common shear-and-strain fine-scale parameterization, which significantly underestimates ε in the two data sets that are least consistent with the Garrett-Munk (GM) model. The new relationship between fine-scale VKE and dissipation rate can be interpreted as an alternative, single-parameter scaling for turbulent dissipation in terms of fine-scale internal wave vertical velocity that requires no reference to the GM model spectrum.
  • Article
    Modification of turbulent dissipation rates by a deep Southern Ocean eddy
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-05-07) Sheen, Katy L. ; Brearley, J. Alexander ; Naveira Garabato, Alberto C. ; Smeed, David A. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Meredith, Michael P. ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Waterman, Stephanie N.
    The impact of a mesoscale eddy on the magnitude and spatial distribution of diapycnal ocean mixing is investigated using a set of hydrographic and microstructure measurements collected in the Southern Ocean. These data sampled a baroclinic, middepth eddy formed during the disintegration of a deep boundary current. Turbulent dissipation is suppressed within the eddy but is elevated by up to an order of magnitude along the upper and lower eddy boundaries. A ray tracing approximation is employed as a heuristic device to elucidate how the internal wave field evolves in the ambient velocity and stratification conditions accompanying the eddy. These calculations are consistent with the observations, suggesting reflection of internal wave energy from the eddy center and enhanced breaking through critical layer processes along the eddy boundaries. These results have important implications for understanding where and how internal wave energy is dissipated in the presence of energetic deep geostrophic flows.
  • Preprint
    Active positioning of vent larvae at a mid-ocean ridge
    ( 2013-03) Mullineaux, Lauren S. ; McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Mills, Susan W. ; Kosnyrev, V. K. ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Ledwell, James R. ; Lavelle, J. William
    The vertical position of larvae of vent species above a mid-ocean ridge potentially has a strong effect on their dispersal. Larvae may be advected upward in the buoyant vent plume, or move as a consequence of their buoyancy or active swimming. Alternatively, they may be retained near bottom by the topography of the axial trough, or by downward swimming. At vents near 9°50’N on the axis of the East Pacific Rise, evidence for active larval positioning was detected in a comparison between field observations of larvae in the plankton in 2006 and 2007 and distributions of non-swimming larvae in a two-dimensional bio-physical model. In the field, few vent larvae were collected at the level of the neutrally buoyant plume (~75 m above bottom); their relative abundances at that height were much lower than those of simulated larvae from a near-bottom release in the model. This discrepancy was observed for many vent species, particularly gastropods, suggesting that they may actively remain near bottom by sinking or swimming downward. Near the seafloor, larval abundance decreased from the ridge axis to 1000 m off axis much more strongly in the observations than in the simulations, again pointing to behavior as a potential regulator of larval transport. We suspect that transport off axis was reduced by downward-moving behavior, which positioned larvae into locations where they were isolated from cross-ridge currents by seafloor topography, such as the walls of the axial valley – which are not resolved in the model. Cross-ridge gradients in larval abundance varied between gastropods and polychaetes, indicating that behavior may vary between taxonomic groups, and possibly between species. These results suggest that behaviorally mediated retention of vent larvae may be common, even for species that have a long planktonic larval duration and are capable of long-distance dispersal.
  • Article
    The prediction, verification, and significance of flank jets at mid-ocean ridges
    (The Oceanography Society, 2012-03) Lavelle, J. William ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Mullineaux, Lauren S. ; McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Ledwell, James R.
    One aspect of ocean flow over mid-ocean ridges that has escaped much attention is the capacity of a ridge to convert oscillatory flows into unidirectional flows. Those unidirectional flows take the form of relatively narrow jets hugging the ridge's flanks. In the Northern Hemisphere, the jets move heat and dissolved and particulate matter poleward on the west and equatorward on the east of north-south trending ridges. Recent measurements and a model of flow at the East Pacific Rise at 9–10°N show that these ridge-parallel flows can extend 10–15 km horizontally away from the ridge axis, reach from the seafloor to several hundreds of meters above ridge crest depth, and have maximum speeds in their cores up to 10 cm s–1. Because of their along-ridge orientation and speed, the jets can significantly affect the transport of hydrothermal vent-associated larvae between vent oases along the ridge crest and, possibly, contribute to the mesoscale stirring of the abyssal ocean. Because jet-formation mechanisms involve oscillatory currents, ocean stratification, and topography, the jets are examples of "stratified topographic flow rectification." Ridge jets have parallels in rectified flows at seamounts and submarine banks.
  • Article
    Deep ocean circulation and transport where the East Pacific Rise at 9–10°N meets the Lamont seamount chain
    (American Geophysical Union, 2010-12-31) Lavelle, J. William ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Ledwell, James R. ; McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Mullineaux, Lauren S.
    We report the first 3-D numerical model study of abyssal ocean circulation and transport over the steep topography of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) and adjoining Lamont seamount chain in the eastern tropical Pacific. We begin by comparing results of hydrodynamical model calculations with observations of currents, hydrography, and SF6 tracer dispersion taken during Larval Dispersal on the Deep East Pacific Rise (LADDER) field expeditions in 2006–2007. Model results are then used to extend observations in time and space. Regional patterns are pronounced in their temporal variability at M2 tidal and subinertial periods. Mean velocities show ridge-trapped current jets flowing poleward west and equatorward east of the ridge, with time-varying magnitudes (weekly average maximum of ∼10 cm s−1) that make the jets important features with regard to ridge-originating particle/larval transport. Isotherms bow upward over the ridge and plunge downward into seamount flanks below ridge crest depth. The passage (P1) between the EPR and the first Lamont seamount to the west is a choke point for northward flux at ridge crest depths and below. Weekly averaged velocities show times of anticyclonic flow around the Lamont seamount chain as a whole and anticyclonic flow around individual seamounts. Results show that during the LADDER tracer experiment SF6 reached P1 from the south in the western flank jet. A short-lived change in regional flow direction, just at the time of SF6 arrival at P1, started the transport of SF6 to the west on a course south of the seamounts, as field observations suggest. Approximately 20 days later, a longer-lasting shift in regional flow from west to SSE returned a small fraction of the tracer to the EPR ridge crest.
  • Preprint
    Surface-generated mesoscale eddies transport deep-sea products from hydrothermal vents
    ( 2011-03) Adams, Diane K. ; McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Zamudio, Luis ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Liang, Xinfeng ; Rouxel, Olivier J. ; German, Christopher R. ; Mullineaux, Lauren S.
    Atmospheric forcing, which is known to have a strong influence on surface ocean dynamics and production, is typically not considered in studies of the deep sea. Our observations and models demonstrate an unexpected influence of surface-generated mesoscale eddies in the transport of hydrothermal vent efflux and of vent larvae away from the northern East Pacific Rise. Transport by these deep-reaching eddies provides a mechanism for spreading the hydrothermal chemical and heat-flux into the deep-ocean interior and for dispersing propagules hundreds of kilometers between isolated and ephemeral communities. Since the eddies interacting with the East Pacific Rise are formed seasonally and are sensitive to phenomena such as El Niño, they have the potential to introduce seasonal to interannual atmospheric variations into the deep sea.
  • Article
    Transformation 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, Takashi
    Closing 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.
  • Article
    Turbulence observations in a buoyant hydrothermal plume on the East Pacific Rise
    (The Oceanography Society, 2012-03) Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; St. Laurent, Louis C.
    Hot vent fluid enters the ocean at high-temperature hydrothermal vents, also known as black smokers. Because of the large temperature difference between the vent fluid and oceanic near-bottom waters, the hydrothermal effluent initially rises as a buoyant plume through the water column. During its rise, the plume engulfs and mixes with background ocean water. This process, called entrainment, gradually reduces the density of the rising plume until it reaches its level of neutral buoyancy, where the plume density equals that of the background water, and it begins to spread along a surface of constant density.
  • Preprint
    Hydrography and circulation near the crest of the East Pacific Rise between 9° and 10°N
    ( 2010-12-12) Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Ledwell, James R. ; Lavelle, J. William ; Mullineaux, Lauren S.
    Topography has a strong effect on the physical oceanography over the flanks and crests of the global mid-ocean ridge system. Here, we present an analysis of the hydrography and circulation near the crest of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) between 9◦ and 10◦N, which coincides with an integrated study site (ISS) of the RIDGE2000 program. The analysis is based primarily on survey and mooring data collected during the LADDER project, which aimed to investigate oceanographic and topographic influences on larval retention and dispersal in hydrothermal vent communities. Results indicate that the yearly averaged regional mean circulation is characterized by a westward drift of 0.5–1 cm·s−1 across the EPR axis and by north- and southward flows along the western and eastern upper ridge flanks, respectively. The westward drift is part of a basin-scale zonal flow that extends across most of the Pacific ocean near 10◦N, whereas the meridional currents near the ridge crest are a topographic effect. In spite of considerable mesoscale variability, which dominates the regional circulation and dispersal on weekly to monthly time scales, quasi-synoptic surveys carried out during the mooring deployment and recovery cruises indicate subinertial circulations that are qualitatively similar to the yearly averaged flow but associated with significantly stronger velocities. Weekly averaged mooring data indicate that the anticyclonically sheared along-flank flows are associated with core speeds as high as 10 cm·s−1 and extend ≈10 km off axis and 200m above the ridge-crest topography. Near the northern limit of the study region, the Lamont Seamount Chain rises from the western ridge flank and restricts along-EPR flow to five narrow passages, where peak velocities in excess of 20 cm·s−1 were observed. Outside the region of the ridge-crest boundary currents the density field over the EPR near 10◦N is characterized by isopycnals dipping into the ridge flanks. Directly above the EPR axis the ridge-crest boundary currents give rise to an isopycnal dome. During times of strong westward cross-EPR flow isopycnal uplift over the eastern flank causes the cross-ridge density field below the doming isopycnals to be asymmetric, with higher densities over the eastern than over the western flank. The data collected during the LADDER project indicate that dispersal of hydrothermal products from the EPR ISS on long time scales is predominantly to the west, whereas mesoscale variability dominates dispersal on weekly to monthly time scales, which are particularly important in the context of larval dispersal.
  • Preprint
    Larval dispersion along an axially symmetric mid-ocean ridge
    ( 2009-12-22) McGillicuddy, Dennis J. ; Lavelle, J. William ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Kosnyrev, V. K. ; Mullineaux, Lauren S.
    We investigated planktonic larval transport processes along an axially symmetric mid-ocean ridge with characteristics similar to that of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) segment at 9-10°N. The hydrodynamic basis for this study is a primitive equation model implemented in two dimensions (depth and across-ridge), forced at the open boundaries to provide suitably realistic simulation of currents observed on the EPR ridge crest from May to November 1999. Three-dimensional trajectories of numerical larvae are computed assuming homogeneity in currents in the along-ridge direction. Larval dispersal fluctuates significantly in time. Transport distance decreases systematically with height above the bottom where numerical larvae are less subject to strong currents along the flanks of the ridge. The probability that the simulated larvae will be located near the ridge crest at settlement depends strongly on their behavioral characteristics (vertical position in the water column during the larval stage) and the length of their precompetency period.
  • Article
    Changes in bottom water physical properties above the mid-Atlantic ridge flank in the Brazil Basin
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-01-30) Zhao, Jian ; Thurnherr, Andreas M.
    Warming of abyssal waters in recent decades has been widely documented around the global ocean. Here repeat hydrographic data collected in 1997 and 2014 near a deep fracture zone canyon in the eastern Brazil Basin are used to quantify the long-term change. Significant changes are found in the Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) within the canyon. The AABW in 2014 was warmer (0.08 ± 0.06 inline image), saltier (0.01 ± 0.005), and less dense (0.005 ± 0.004 inline image) than in 1997. In contrast, the change in the North Atlantic Deep Water has complicated spatial structure and is almost indistinguishable from zero at 95% confidence. The resulting divergence in vertical displacement of the isopycnals modifies the local density stratification. At its peak, the local squared buoyancy frequency ( inline image) near the canyon is reduced by about 20% from 1997 to 2014. Similar reduction is found in the basinwide averaged profiles over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge flank along 25 inline imageW in years 1989, 2005, and 2014. The observed changes in density stratification have important implications for internal tide generation and dissipation.
  • Article
    Improving LADCP velocity with external heading, pitch, and roll
    (American Meteorological Society, 2017-08-11) Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Goszczko, Ilona ; Bahr, Frank B.
    Data collected with acoustic Doppler current profilers installed on CTD rosettes and lowered through the water column [lowered ADCP (LADCP) systems] are routinely used to derive full-depth profiles of ocean velocity. In addition to the uncertainties arising from random noise in the along-beam velocity measurements, LADCP-derived velocities are commonly contaminated by bias errors due to imperfectly measured instrument attitude (heading, pitch, and roll). Of particular concern are the heading measurements, because it is not usually feasible to calibrate the internal ADCP compasses with the instruments installed on a CTD rosette, away from the magnetic disturbances of the ship. Heading data from dual-headed LADCP systems, which consist of upward- and downward-pointing ADCPs installed on the same rosette, commonly indicate heading-dependent compass errors with amplitudes exceeding 10°. In an attempt to reduce LADCP velocity errors, several dozen profiles of simultaneous LADCP and magnetometer/accelerometer data were collected in the Gulf of Mexico. Agreement between the LADCP profiles and simultaneous shipboard velocity measurements improves significantly when the former are processed with external attitude measurements. Another set of LADCP profiles with external attitude data was collected in a region of the Arctic Ocean where the horizontal geomagnetic field is too weak for the ADCP compasses to work reliably. Good agreement between shipboard velocity measurements and Arctic LADCP profiles collected at magnetic dip angles exceeding and processed with external attitude measurements indicate that high-quality velocity profiles can be obtained close to the magnetic poles.
  • Article
    Dynamics of eddying abyssal mixing layers over sloping rough topography
    (American Meteorological Society, 2022-11-18) Drake, Henri F. ; Ruan, Xiaozhou ; Callies, Joern ; Ogden, Kelly A. ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Ferrari, Raffaele
    The abyssal overturning circulation is thought to be primarily driven by small-scale turbulent mixing. Diagnosed water-mass transformations are dominated by rough topography “hotspots,” where the bottom enhancement of mixing causes the diffusive buoyancy flux to diverge, driving widespread downwelling in the interior—only to be overwhelmed by an even stronger upwelling in a thin bottom boundary layer (BBL). These water-mass transformations are significantly underestimated by one-dimensional (1D) sloping boundary layer solutions, suggesting the importance of three-dimensional physics. Here, we use a hierarchy of models to generalize this 1D boundary layer approach to three-dimensional eddying flows over realistically rough topography. When applied to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the Brazil Basin, the idealized simulation results are roughly consistent with available observations. Integral buoyancy budgets isolate the physical processes that contribute to realistically strong BBL upwelling. The downward diffusion of buoyancy is primarily balanced by upwelling along the sloping canyon sidewalls and the surrounding abyssal hills. These flows are strengthened by the restratifying effects of submesoscale baroclinic eddies and by the blocking of along-ridge thermal wind within the canyon. Major topographic sills block along-thalweg flows from restratifying the canyon trough, resulting in the continual erosion of the trough’s stratification. We propose simple modifications to the 1D boundary layer model that approximate each of these three-dimensional effects. These results provide local dynamical insights into mixing-driven abyssal overturning, but a complete theory will also require the nonlocal coupling to the basin-scale circulation.
  • Article
    Ocean system science to inform the exploration of ocean worlds
    (Oceanography Society, 2022-05-23) German, Christopher R. ; Blackman, Donna K. ; Fisher, Andrew T. ; Girguis, Peter R. ; Hand, Kevin P. ; Hoehler, Tori M. ; Huber, Julie A. ; Marshall, John C. ; Pietro, Kathryn R. ; Seewald, Jeffrey S. ; Shock, Everett ; Sotin, Christophe ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Toner, Brandy M.
    Ocean worlds provide fascinating opportunities for future ocean research. They allow us to test our understanding of processes we consider fundamental to Earth’s ocean and simultaneously provide motivation to explore our ocean further and develop new technologies to do so. In parallel, ocean worlds research offers opportunities for ocean scientists to provide meaningful contributions to novel investigations in the coming decades that will search for life beyond Earth. Key to the contributions that oceanographers can make to this field is that studies of all other ocean worlds remain extremely data limited. Here, we describe an approach based on ocean systems science in which theoretical modeling can be used, in concert with targeted laboratory experimentation and direct observations in Earth’s ocean, to predict what processes (including those essential to support life) might be occurring on other ocean worlds. In turn, such an approach would help identify new technologies that might be required for future space missions as well as appropriate analog studies that could be conducted on Earth to develop and validate such technologies. Our approach is both integrative and interdisciplinary and considers multiple domains, from processes active in the subseafloor to those associated with ocean-ice feedbacks.
  • Article
    Turbulence and diapycnal mixing in Drake Passage
    (American Meteorological Society, 2012-12) St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Naveira Garabato, Alberto C. ; Ledwell, James R. ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Toole, John M. ; Watson, Andrew J.
    Direct measurements of turbulence levels in the Drake Passage region of the Southern Ocean show a marked enhancement over the Phoenix Ridge. At this site, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is constricted in its flow between the southern tip of South America and the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Observed turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rates are enhanced in the regions corresponding to the ACC frontal zones where strong flow reaches the bottom. In these areas, turbulent dissipation levels reach 10−8 W kg−1 at abyssal and middepths. The mixing enhancement in the frontal regions is sufficient to elevate the diapycnal turbulent diffusivity acting in the deep water above the axis of the ridge to 1 × 10−4 m2 s−1. This level is an order of magnitude larger than the mixing levels observed upstream in the ACC above smoother bathymetry. Outside of the frontal regions, dissipation rates are O(10−10) W kg−1, comparable to the background levels of turbulence found throughout most mid- and low-latitude regions of the global ocean.
  • Article
    Turbulent mixing in a deep fracture zone on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
    (American Meteorological Society, 2017-07-13) Clément, Louis ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; St. Laurent, Louis C.
    Midocean ridge fracture zones channel bottom waters in the eastern Brazil Basin in regions of intensified deep mixing. The mechanisms responsible for the deep turbulent mixing inside the numerous midocean fracture zones, whether affected by the local or the nonlocal canyon topography, are still subject to debate. To discriminate those mechanisms and to discern the canyon mean flow, two moorings sampled a deep canyon over and away from a sill/contraction. A 2-layer exchange flow, accelerated at the sill, transports 0.04–0.10-Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) up canyon in the deep layer. At the sill, the dissipation rate of turbulent kinetic energy ε increases as measured from microstructure profilers and as inferred from a parameterization of vertical kinetic energy. Cross-sill density and microstructure transects reveal an overflow potentially hydraulically controlled and modulated by fortnightly tides. During spring to neap tides, ε varies from O(10−9) to O(10−10) W kg−1 below 3500 m around the 2-layer interface. The detection of temperature overturns during tidal flow reversal, which almost fully opposes the deep up-canyon mean flow, confirms the canyon middepth enhancement of ε. The internal tide energy flux, particularly enhanced at the sill, compares with the lower-layer energy loss across the sill. Throughout the canyon away from the sill, near-inertial waves with downward-propagating energy dominate the internal wave field. The present study underlines the intricate pattern of the deep turbulent mixing affected by the mean flow, internal tides, and near-inertial waves.
  • Article
    Rates and mechanisms of turbulent dissipation and mixing in the Southern Ocean : results from the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES)
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2013-06-04) Sheen, Katy L. ; Brearley, J. Alexander ; Naveira Garabato, Alberto C. ; Smeed, David A. ; Waterman, Stephanie N. ; Ledwell, James R. ; Meredith, Michael P. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Toole, John M. ; Watson, Andrew J.
    The spatial distribution of turbulent dissipation rates and internal wavefield characteristics is analyzed across two contrasting regimes of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), using microstructure and finestructure data collected as part of the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES). Mid-depth turbulent dissipation rates are found to increase from inline image in the Southeast Pacific to inline image in the Scotia Sea, typically reaching inline image within a kilometer of the seabed. Enhanced levels of turbulent mixing are associated with strong near-bottom flows, rough topography, and regions where the internal wavefield is found to have enhanced energy, a less-inertial frequency content and a dominance of upward propagating energy. These results strongly suggest that bottom-generated internal waves play a major role in determining the spatial distribution of turbulent dissipation in the ACC. The energy flux associated with the bottom internal wave generation process is calculated using wave radiation theory, and found to vary between 0.8 mW m−2 in the Southeast Pacific and 14 mW m−2 in the Scotia Sea. Typically, 10%–30% of this energy is found to dissipate within 1 km of the seabed. Comparison between turbulent dissipation rates inferred from finestructure parameterizations and microstructure-derived estimates suggests a significant departure from wave-wave interaction physics in the near-field of wave generation sites.
  • Article
    Enhanced diapycnal diffusivity in intrusive regions of the Drake Passage
    (American Meteorological Society, 2016-04-05) Merrifield, Sophia T. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Owens, W. Brechner ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Toole, John M.
    Direct measurements of oceanic turbulent parameters were taken upstream of and across Drake Passage, in the region of the Subantarctic and Polar Fronts. Values of turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate ε estimated by microstructure are up to two orders of magnitude lower than previously published estimates in the upper 1000 m. Turbulence levels in Drake Passage are systematically higher than values upstream, regardless of season. The dissipation of thermal variance χ is enhanced at middepth throughout the surveys, with the highest values found in northern Drake Passage, where water mass variability is the most pronounced. Using the density ratio, evidence for double-diffusive instability is presented. Subject to double-diffusive physics, the estimates of diffusivity using the Osborn–Cox method are larger than ensemble statistics based on ε and the buoyancy frequency.
  • Article
    Turbulence and diapycnal mixing over the East Pacific Rise crest near 10°N
    (American Geophysical Union, 2011-08-13) Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; St. Laurent, Louis C.
    Turbulent mixing plays an important role in the return path of the global overturning circulation of the ocean. Previous measurements indicate that much of the mixing takes place near topography, in particular near seamounts and mid-ocean ridges. Here we report on the first microstructure data set collected over the crest and flanks of a fast-spreading ridge. The data indicate that in spite of weak tidally modulated background turbulence levels (ε ≈ 10−10 W kg−1) diapycnal diffusivity is elevated above 10−4 m2 s−1 below crest depth of the ridge throughout the entire region because of the weak density stratification. Near the peaks and in the narrow deep passages of a chain of seamounts, where large horizontal velocities have been observed, turbulence levels are elevated by up to an order of magnitude above background. We conclude that topographic organization plays an important role in determining spatial patterns of turbulence in this region and that both tidal and subinertial energy contribute to the mixing.
  • Article
    Exploring the ecology of deep-sea hydrothermal vents in a metacommunity framework
    (Frontiers Media, 2018-02-21) Mullineaux, Lauren S. ; Metaxas, Anna ; Beaulieu, Stace E. ; Bright, Monika ; Gollner, Sabine ; Grupe, Benjamin ; Herrera, Santiago ; Kellner, Julie B. ; Levin, Lisa A. ; Mitarai, Satoshi ; Neubert, Michael G. ; Thurnherr, Andreas M. ; Tunnicliffe, Verena ; Watanabe, Hiromi K. ; Won, Yong-Jin
    Species inhabiting deep-sea hydrothermal vents are strongly influenced by the geological setting, as it provides the chemical-rich fluids supporting the food web, creates the patchwork of seafloor habitat, and generates catastrophic disturbances that can eradicate entire communities. The patches of vent habitat host a network of communities (a metacommunity) connected by dispersal of planktonic larvae. The dynamics of the metacommunity are influenced not only by birth rates, death rates and interactions of populations at the local site, but also by regional influences on dispersal from different sites. The connections to other communities provide a mechanism for dynamics at a local site to affect features of the regional biota. In this paper, we explore the challenges and potential benefits of applying metacommunity theory to vent communities, with a particular focus on effects of disturbance. We synthesize field observations to inform models and identify data gaps that need to be addressed to answer key questions including: (1) what is the influence of the magnitude and rate of disturbance on ecological attributes, such as time to extinction or resilience in a metacommunity; (2) what interactions between local and regional processes control species diversity, and (3) which communities are “hot spots” of key ecological significance. We conclude by assessing our ability to evaluate resilience of vent metacommunities to human disturbance (e.g., deep-sea mining). Although the resilience of a few highly disturbed vent systems in the eastern Pacific has been quantified, these values cannot be generalized to remote locales in the western Pacific or mid Atlantic where disturbance rates are different and information on local controls is missing.