Phillips Helen E.

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Helen E.

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  • Article
    Mixing variability in the Southern Ocean
    (American Meteorological Society, 2015-04) Meyer, Amelie ; Sloyan, Bernadette M. ; Polzin, Kurt L. ; Phillips, Helen E. ; Bindoff, Nathaniel L.
    A key remaining challenge in oceanography is the understanding and parameterization of small-scale mixing. Evidence suggests that topographic features play a significant role in enhancing mixing in the Southern Ocean. This study uses 914 high-resolution hydrographic profiles from novel EM-APEX profiling floats to investigate turbulent mixing north of the Kerguelen Plateau, a major topographic feature in the Southern Ocean. A shear–strain finescale parameterization is applied to estimate diapycnal diffusivity in the upper 1600 m of the ocean. The indirect estimates of mixing match direct microstructure profiler observations made simultaneously. It is found that mixing intensities have strong spatial and temporal variability, ranging from O(10−6) to O(10−3) m2 s−1. This study identifies topographic roughness, current speed, and wind speed as the main factors controlling mixing intensity. Additionally, the authors find strong regional variability in mixing dynamics and enhanced mixing in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current frontal region. This enhanced mixing is attributed to dissipating internal waves generated by the interaction of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the topography of the Kerguelen Plateau. Extending the mixing observations from the Kerguelen region to the entire Southern Ocean, this study infers a large water mass transformation rate of 17 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) across the boundary of Antarctic Intermediate Water and Upper Circumpolar Deep Water in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. This work suggests that the contribution of mixing to the Southern Ocean overturning circulation budget is particularly significant in fronts.
  • Article
    Internal waves and mixing near the Kerguelen Plateau
    (American Meteorological Society, 2015-12-07) Meyer, Amelie ; Polzin, Kurt L. ; Sloyan, Bernadette M. ; Phillips, Helen E.
    In the stratified ocean, turbulent mixing is primarily attributed to the breaking of internal waves. As such, internal waves provide a link between large-scale forcing and small-scale mixing. The internal wave field north of the Kerguelen Plateau is characterized using 914 high-resolution hydrographic profiles from novel Electromagnetic Autonomous Profiling Explorer (EM-APEX) floats. Altogether, 46 coherent features are identified in the EM-APEX velocity profiles and interpreted in terms of internal wave kinematics. The large number of internal waves analyzed provides a quantitative framework for characterizing spatial variations in the internal wave field and for resolving generation versus propagation dynamics. Internal waves observed near the Kerguelen Plateau have a mean vertical wavelength of 200 m, a mean horizontal wavelength of 15 km, a mean period of 16 h, and a mean horizontal group velocity of 3 cm s−1. The internal wave characteristics are dependent on regional dynamics, suggesting that different generation mechanisms of internal waves dominate in different dynamical zones. The wave fields in the Subantarctic/Subtropical Front and the Polar Front Zone are influenced by the local small-scale topography and flow strength. The eddy-wave field is influenced by the large-scale flow structure, while the internal wave field in the Subantarctic Zone is controlled by atmospheric forcing. More importantly, the local generation of internal waves not only drives large-scale dissipation in the frontal region but also downstream from the plateau. Some internal waves in the frontal region are advected away from the plateau, contributing to mixing and stratification budgets elsewhere.