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
    Evaluating salt-fingering theories
    (Sears Foundation for Marine Research, 2008-07) Inoue, R. ; Kunze, Eric ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Schmitt, Raymond W. ; Toole, John M.
    The NATRE fine- and microstructure data set is revisited to test salt-finger amplitude theories. Dependences of the mixing efficiency Γ, microscale buoyancy Reynolds number Re and thermal Cox number CxT on 5-m density ratio Rρ and gradient Richardson number Ri are examined. The observed mixing efficiency is too high to be explained by linear fastest-growing fingers but can be reproduced by wavenumbers 0.5-0.9 times lower than the fastest-growing wavenumber. Constraining these fingers with a hybrid wave/finger Froude number or a finger Reynolds number cannot reproduce the observed trends with Rρ or Ri, respectively. This suggests that background shear has no influence on finger amplitudes. Constraining average amplitudes of these lower-wavenumber fingers with finger Richardson number Rif ~ 0.2 reproduces the observed dependence of Re and CxT on density ratio Rρ and Ri at all but the lowest observed density ratio (Rρ = 1.3). Separately relaxing the assumptions of viscous control, dominance of a single mode and tall narrow fingers does not explain the difference between theory and data at low Rρ for a critical Rif ~ 0.2.
  • 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
    Shear turbulence in the high-wind Southern Ocean using direct measurements
    (American Meteorological Society, 2022-09-19) Ferris, Laur ; Gong, Donglai ; Clayson, Carol A. ; Merrifield, Sophia T. ; Shroyer, Emily L. ; Smith, Madison M. ; St. Laurent, Louis C.
    The ocean surface boundary layer is a gateway of energy transfer into the ocean. Wind-driven shear and meteorologically forced convection inject turbulent kinetic energy into the surface boundary layer, mixing the upper ocean and transforming its density structure. In the absence of direct observations or the capability to resolve subgrid-scale 3D turbulence in operational ocean models, the oceanography community relies on surface boundary layer similarity scalings (BLS) of shear and convective turbulence to represent this mixing. Despite their importance, near-surface mixing processes (and ubiquitous BLS representations of these processes) have been undersampled in high-energy forcing regimes such as the Southern Ocean. With the maturing of autonomous sampling platforms, there is now an opportunity to collect high-resolution spatial and temporal measurements in the full range of forcing conditions. Here, we characterize near-surface turbulence under strong wind forcing using the first long-duration glider microstructure survey of the Southern Ocean. We leverage these data to show that the measured turbulence is significantly higher than standard shear-convective BLS in the shallower parts of the surface boundary layer and lower than standard shear-convective BLS in the deeper parts of the surface boundary layer; the latter of which is not easily explained by present wave-effect literature. Consistent with the CBLAST (Coupled Boundary Layers and Air Sea Transfer) low winds experiment, this bias has the largest magnitude and spread in the shallowest 10% of the actively mixing layer under low-wind and breaking wave conditions, when relatively low levels of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) in surface regime are easily biased by wave events.
  • 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.
  • 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
    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.
  • 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
    How 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.
  • 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
    Does the marine biosphere mix the ocean?
    (Sears Foundation for Marine Research, 2006-07) Dewar, William K. ; Bingham, Rory J. ; Iverson, R. L. ; Nowacek, Douglas P. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Wiebe, Peter H.
    Ocean mixing is thought to control the climatically important oceanic overturning circulation. Here we argue the marine biosphere, by a mechanism like the bioturbation occurring in marine sediments, mixes the oceans as effectively as the winds and tides. This statement is derived ultimately from an estimated 62.7 TeraWatts of chemical power provided to the marine environment in net primary production. Various approaches argue something like 1% (.63 TeraWatts) of this power is invested in aphotic ocean mechanical energy, a rate comparable to wind and tidal inputs.
  • 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.