St. Laurent Louis C.

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St. Laurent
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Louis C.
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Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
  • 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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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.