St. Laurent Louis C.

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St. Laurent
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Louis C.
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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.
  • Article
    Diapycnal mixing in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current
    (American Meteorological Society, 2011-01) Ledwell, James R. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Girton, James B. ; Toole, John M.
    The vertical dispersion of a tracer released on a density surface near 1500-m depth in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current west of Drake Passage indicates that the diapycnal diffusivity, averaged over 1 yr and over tens of thousands of square kilometers, is (1.3 ± 0.2) × 10−5 m2 s−1. Diapycnal diffusivity estimated from turbulent kinetic energy dissipation measurements about the area occupied by the tracer in austral summer 2010 was somewhat less, but still within a factor of 2, at (0.75 ± 0.07) × 10−5 m2 s−1. Turbulent diapycnal mixing of this intensity is characteristic of the midlatitude ocean interior, where the energy for mixing is believed to derive from internal wave breaking. Indeed, despite the frequent and intense atmospheric forcing experienced by the Southern Ocean, the amplitude of finescale velocity shear sampled about the tracer was similar to background amplitudes in the midlatitude ocean, with levels elevated to only 20%–50% above the Garrett–Munk reference spectrum. These results add to a long line of evidence that diapycnal mixing in the interior middepth ocean is weak and is likely too small to dictate the middepth meridional overturning circulation of the ocean.
  • Article
    The relationship among oceanography, prey fields, and beaked whale foraging habitat in the Tongue of the Ocean
    (Public Library of Science, 2011-04-27) Hazen, Elliott L. ; Nowacek, Douglas P. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Halpin, Patrick N. ; Moretti, David J.
    Beaked whales, specifically Blainville's (Mesoplodon densirostris) and Cuvier's (Ziphius cavirostris), are known to feed in the Tongue of the Ocean, Bahamas. These whales can be reliably detected and often localized within the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) acoustic sensor system. The AUTEC range is a regularly spaced bottom mounted hydrophone array covering >350 nm2 providing a valuable network to record anthropogenic noise and marine mammal vocalizations. Assessments of the potential risks of noise exposure to beaked whales have historically occurred in the absence of information about the physical and biological environments in which these animals are distributed. In the fall of 2008, we used a downward looking 38 kHz SIMRAD EK60 echosounder to measure prey scattering layers concurrent with fine scale turbulence measurements from an autonomous turbulence profiler. Using an 8 km, 4-leaf clover sampling pattern, we completed a total of 7.5 repeat surveys with concurrently measured physical and biological oceanographic parameters, so as to examine the spatiotemporal scales and relationships among turbulence levels, biological scattering layers, and beaked whale foraging activity. We found a strong correlation among increased prey density and ocean vertical structure relative to increased click densities. Understanding the habitats of these whales and their utilization patterns will improve future models of beaked whale habitat as well as allowing more comprehensive assessments of exposure risk to anthropogenic sound.
  • Article
    Global patterns of diapycnal mixing from measurements of the turbulent dissipation rate
    (American Meteorological Society, 2014-07) Waterhouse, Amy F. ; MacKinnon, Jennifer A. ; Nash, Jonathan D. ; Alford, Matthew H. ; Kunze, Eric ; Simmons, Harper L. ; Polzin, Kurt L. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Sun, Oliver M. T. ; Pinkel, Robert ; Talley, Lynne D. ; Whalen, Caitlin B. ; Huussen, Tycho N. ; Carter, Glenn S. ; Fer, Ilker ; Waterman, Stephanie N. ; Naveira Garabato, Alberto C. ; Sanford, Thomas B. ; Lee, Craig M.
    The authors present inferences of diapycnal diffusivity from a compilation of over 5200 microstructure profiles. As microstructure observations are sparse, these are supplemented with indirect measurements of mixing obtained from (i) Thorpe-scale overturns from moored profilers, a finescale parameterization applied to (ii) shipboard observations of upper-ocean shear, (iii) strain as measured by profiling floats, and (iv) shear and strain from full-depth lowered acoustic Doppler current profilers (LADCP) and CTD profiles. Vertical profiles of the turbulent dissipation rate are bottom enhanced over rough topography and abrupt, isolated ridges. The geography of depth-integrated dissipation rate shows spatial variability related to internal wave generation, suggesting one direct energy pathway to turbulence. The global-averaged diapycnal diffusivity below 1000-m depth is O(10−4) m2 s−1 and above 1000-m depth is O(10−5) m2 s−1. The compiled microstructure observations sample a wide range of internal wave power inputs and topographic roughness, providing a dataset with which to estimate a representative global-averaged dissipation rate and diffusivity. However, there is strong regional variability in the ratio between local internal wave generation and local dissipation. In some regions, the depth-integrated dissipation rate is comparable to the estimated power input into the local internal wave field. In a few cases, more internal wave power is dissipated than locally generated, suggesting remote internal wave sources. However, at most locations the total power lost through turbulent dissipation is less than the input into the local internal wave field. This suggests dissipation elsewhere, such as continental margins.
  • Preprint
    Shoaling of large-amplitude nonlinear internal waves at Dongsha Atoll in the northern South China Sea
    ( 2012-02-10) Fu, Ke-Hsien ; Wang, YuHuai ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Simmons, Harper L. ; Wang, Wang
    Shoaling of large-amplitude (~100 m) nonlinear internal waves over a steep slope (~3°) in water depths between 100 m and 285 m near Dongsha Atoll in the northern South China Sea is examined with an intensive array of thermistor moorings and a bottom mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler. During the 44 h study period in May 5–7, 2008, there were four groups of large internal waves with semidiurnal modulation. In each wave group a rapid transition occurred during the shoaling, such that the front face of the leading depression wave elongated and plunged to the bottom and the rear face steepened and transformed into a bottom-trapped elevation wave. The transitions occur in water depths of 200 m and deeper, and represent the largest documented internal wave shoaling events. The observations repeatedly capture the detailed temperature and velocity structures of the incident plunging waves. Strong horizontal convergence and intense upward motion are found at the leading edge of transformed elevation waves, suggesting flow separation near the bottom. The observations are compared with the previous observations and model studies. The implication of the shoaling internal waves on coral reef ecology also is discussed.
  • Article
    Topographic enhancement of vertical turbulent mixing in the Southern Ocean
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2017-03-06) Mashayek, Ali ; Ferrari, Raffaele ; Merrifield, Sophia T. ; Ledwell, James R. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Naveira Garabato, Alberto C.
    It is an open question whether turbulent mixing across density surfaces is sufficiently large to play a dominant role in closing the deep branch of the ocean meridional overturning circulation. The diapycnal and isopycnal mixing experiment in the Southern Ocean found the turbulent diffusivity inferred from the vertical spreading of a tracer to be an order of magnitude larger than that inferred from the microstructure profiles at the mean tracer depth of 1,500 m in the Drake Passage. Using a high-resolution ocean model, it is shown that the fast vertical spreading of tracer occurs when it comes in contact with mixing hotspots over rough topography. The sparsity of such hotspots is made up for by enhanced tracer residence time in their vicinity due to diffusion toward weak bottom flows. The increased tracer residence time may explain the large vertical fluxes of heat and salt required to close the abyssal circulation.
  • 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.
  • Article
    Modification of upper-ocean temperature structure by subsurface mixing in the presence of strong salinity stratification
    (The Oceanography Society, 2016-06) Shroyer, Emily L. ; Rudnick, Daniel L. ; Farrar, J. Thomas ; Lim, Byungho ; Venayagamoorthy, Subhas K. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Garanaik, Amrapalli ; Moum, James N.
    The Bay of Bengal has a complex upper-ocean temperature and salinity structure that is, in places, characterized by strong salinity stratification and multiple inversions in temperature. Here, two short time series from continuously profiling floats, equipped with microstructure sensors to measure subsurface mixing, are used to highlight implications of complex hydrography on upper-ocean heat content and the evolution of sea surface temperature. Weak mixing coupled with the existence of subsurface warm layers suggest the potential for storage of heat below the surface mixed layer over relatively long time scales. On the diurnal time scale, these data demonstrate the competing effects of surface heat flux and subsurface mixing in the presence of thin salinity-stratified mixed layers with temperature inversions. Pre-existing stratification can amplify the sea surface temperature response through control on the vertical extent of heating and cooling by surface fluxes. In contrast, subsurface mixing entrains relatively cool water during the day and relatively warm water during the night, damping the response to daytime heating and nighttime cooling at the surface. These observations hint at the challenges involved in improving monsoon prediction at longer, intraseasonal time scales as models may need to resolve upper-ocean variability over short time and fine vertical scales.
  • Article
    Turbulent properties of internal waves in the South China Sea
    (The Oceanography Society, 2011-12) St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Simmons, Harper L. ; Tang, Tswen Yung ; Wang, YuHuai
    Luzon Strait and South China Sea waters are among the most energetic internal wave environments in the global ocean. Strong tides and stratification in Luzon Strait give rise to internal waves that propagate west into the South China Sea. The energy carried by the waves is dissipated via turbulent processes. Here, we present and contrast the relatively few direct observations of turbulent dissipation in South China Sea internal waves. Frictional processes active in the bottom boundary layer dissipate some of the energy along China's continental shelf. It appears that more energy is lost in Taiwanese waters of the Dongsha Plateau, where the waves reach their maximum amplitudes, and where the bottom topography abruptly shoals from 3,000 m in the deep basin to 1,000 m and shallower on the plateau. There, energy dissipation by turbulence reaches 1 W m–2, on par with the conversion rates of Luzon Strait.
  • Article
    Scaling turbulent dissipation in the transition layer
    (American Meteorological Society, 2013-11) Sun, Oliver M. T. ; Jayne, Steven R. ; Polzin, Kurt L. ; Rahter, Bryan A. ; St. Laurent, Louis C.
    Data from three midlatitude, month-long surveys are examined for evidence of enhanced vertical mixing associated with the transition layer (TL), here defined as the strongly stratified layer that exists between the well mixed layer and the thermocline below. In each survey, microstructure estimates of turbulent dissipation were collected concurrently with fine-structure stratification and shear. Survey-wide averages are formed in a “TL coordinate” zTL, which is referenced around the depth of maximum stratification for each profile. Averaged profiles show characteristic TL structures such as peaks in stratification N2 and shear variance S2, which fall off steeply above zTL = 0 and more gradually below. Turbulent dissipation rates ɛ are 5–10 times larger than those found in the upper thermocline (TC). The gradient Richardson number Ri = N2/S2 becomes unstable (Ri < 0.25) within ~10 m of the TL upper boundary, suggesting that shear instability is active in the TL for zTL > 0. Ri is stable for zTL ≤ 0. Turbulent dissipation is found to scale exponentially with depth for zTL ≤ 0, but the decay scales are different for the TL and upper TC: ɛ scales well with either N2 or S2. Owing to the strong correlation between S2 and N2, existing TC scalings of the form ɛ ~ |S|p|N|q overpredict variations in ɛ. The scale dependence of shear variance is not found to significantly affect the scalings of ɛ versus N2 and S2 for zTL ≤ 0. However, the onset of unstable Ri at the top of the TL is sensitively dependent to the resolution of the shears.
  • Article
    Climate Process Team on internal wave–driven ocean mixing
    (American Meteorological Society, 2017-12-01) MacKinnon, Jennifer A. ; Zhao, Zhongxiang ; Whalen, Caitlin B. ; Waterhouse, Amy F. ; Trossman, David S. ; Sun, Oliver M. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Simmons, Harper L. ; Polzin, Kurt L. ; Pinkel, Robert ; Pickering, Andrew I. ; Norton, Nancy J. ; Nash, Jonathan D. ; Musgrave, Ruth C. ; Merchant, Lynne M. ; Melet, Angelique ; Mater, Benjamin D. ; Legg, Sonya ; Large, William G. ; Kunze, Eric ; Klymak, Jody M. ; Jochum, Markus ; Jayne, Steven R. ; Hallberg, Robert ; Griffies, Stephen M. ; Diggs, Stephen ; Danabasoglu, Gokhan ; Chassignet, Eric P. ; Buijsman, Maarten C. ; Bryan, Frank O. ; Briegleb, Bruce P. ; Barna, Andrew ; Arbic, Brian K. ; Ansong, Joseph ; Alford, Matthew H.
    Diapycnal mixing plays a primary role in the thermodynamic balance of the ocean and, consequently, in oceanic heat and carbon uptake and storage. Though observed mixing rates are on average consistent with values required by inverse models, recent attention has focused on the dramatic spatial variability, spanning several orders of magnitude, of mixing rates in both the upper and deep ocean. Away from ocean boundaries, the spatiotemporal patterns of mixing are largely driven by the geography of generation, propagation, and dissipation of internal waves, which supply much of the power for turbulent mixing. Over the last 5 years and under the auspices of U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability Program (CLIVAR), a National Science Foundation (NSF)- and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-supported Climate Process Team has been engaged in developing, implementing, and testing dynamics-based parameterizations for internal wave–driven turbulent mixing in global ocean models. The work has primarily focused on turbulence 1) near sites of internal tide generation, 2) in the upper ocean related to wind-generated near inertial motions, 3) due to internal lee waves generated by low-frequency mesoscale flows over topography, and 4) at ocean margins. Here, we review recent progress, describe the tools developed, and discuss future directions.
  • Article
    Flow Encountering Abrupt Topography (FLEAT): a multiscale observational and modeling program to understand how topography affects flows in the western North Pacific
    (Oceanography Society, 2019-12-11) Johnston, T. M. Shaun ; Schönau, Martha ; Paluszkiewicz, Theresa ; MacKinnon, Jennifer A. ; Arbic, Brian K. ; Colin, Patrick L. ; Alford, Matthew H. ; Andres, Magdalena ; Centurioni, Luca R. ; Graber, Hans C. ; Helfrich, Karl R. ; Hormann, Verena ; Lermusiaux, Pierre F. J. ; Musgrave, Ruth C. ; Powell, Brian S. ; Qiu, Bo ; Rudnick, Daniel L. ; Simmons, Harper L. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Terrill, Eric ; Trossman, David S. ; Voet, Gunnar ; Wijesekera, Hemantha W. ; Zeide, Kristin L.
    Using a combination of models and observations, the US Office of Naval Research Flow Encountering Abrupt Topography (FLEAT) initiative examines how island chains and submerged ridges affect open ocean current systems, from the hundreds of kilometer scale of large current features to the millimeter scale of turbulence. FLEAT focuses on the western Pacific, mainly on equatorial currents that encounter steep topography near the island nation of Palau. Wake eddies and lee waves as small as 1 km were observed to form as these currents flowed around or over the steep topography. The direction and vertical structure of the incident flow varied over tidal, inertial, seasonal, and interannual timescales, with implications for downstream flow. Models incorporated tides and had grids with resolutions of hundreds of meters to enable predictions of flow transformations as waters encountered and passed around Palau’s islands. In addition to making scientific advances, FLEAT had a positive impact on the local Palauan community by bringing new technology to explore local waters, expanding the country’s scientific infrastructure, maintaining collaborations with Palauan partners, and conducting outreach activities aimed at elementary and high school students, US embassy personnel, and Palauan government officials.
  • Article
    Biases in Thorpe-scale estimates of turbulence dissipation. Part I : Assessments from large-scale overturns in oceanographic data
    (American Meteorological Society, 2015-10) Mater, Benjamin D. ; Venayagamoorthy, Subhas K. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Moum, James N.
    Oceanic density overturns are commonly used to parameterize the dissipation rate of turbulent kinetic energy. This method assumes a linear scaling between the Thorpe length scale LT and the Ozmidov length scale LO. Historic evidence supporting LT ~ LO has been shown for relatively weak shear-driven turbulence of the thermocline; however, little support for the method exists in regions of turbulence driven by the convective collapse of topographically influenced overturns that are large by open-ocean standards. This study presents a direct comparison of LT and LO, using vertical profiles of temperature and microstructure shear collected in the Luzon Strait—a site characterized by topographically influenced overturns up to O(100) m in scale. The comparison is also done for open-ocean sites in the Brazil basin and North Atlantic where overturns are generally smaller and due to different processes. A key result is that LT/LO increases with overturn size in a fashion similar to that observed in numerical studies of Kelvin–Helmholtz (K–H) instabilities for all sites but is most clear in data from the Luzon Strait. Resultant bias in parameterized dissipation is mitigated by ensemble averaging; however, a positive bias appears when instantaneous observations are depth and time integrated. For a series of profiles taken during a spring tidal period in the Luzon Strait, the integrated value is nearly an order of magnitude larger than that based on the microstructure observations. Physical arguments supporting LT ~ LO are revisited, and conceptual regimes explaining the relationship between LT/LO and a nondimensional overturn size are proposed. In a companion paper, Scotti obtains similar conclusions from energetics arguments and simulations.
  • 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
    Turbulence and vorticity in the Wake of Palau
    (Oceanography Society, 2019-12-11) St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Ijichi, Takashi ; Merrifield, Sophia T. ; Shapiro, Justin ; Simmons, Harper L.
    The interaction of flow with steep island and ridge topography at the Palau island chain leads to rich vorticity fields that generate a cascade of motions. The energy transfer to small scales removes energy from the large-scale mean flow of the equatorial current systems and feeds energy to the fine and microstructure scales where instability mechanisms lead to turbulence and dissipation. Until now, direct assessments of the turbulence associated with island wakes have received only minimal attention. Here, we examine data collected from an ocean glider equipped with microstructure sensors that flew in the island wake of Palau. We use a combination of submesoscale modeling and direct observation to quantify the relationship between vorticity and turbulence levels. We find that direct wind-driven mixing only accounts for about 10% of the observed turbulence levels, suggesting that most of the energy for mixing is extracted from the shear associated with the vorticity field in the island’s wake. Below the surface layer, enhanced turbulence correlates with the phase and magnitude of the relative vorticity and strain levels of the mesoscale flow.
  • 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.