St. Laurent Louis C.

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St. Laurent
First Name
Louis C.

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Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
  • 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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Moored turbulence measurements using pulse-coherent doppler sonar
    (American Meteorological Society, 2021-09-01) Zippel, Seth F. ; Farrar, J. Thomas ; Zappa, Christopher J. ; Miller, Una ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Ijichi, Takashi ; Weller, Robert A. ; McRaven, Leah T. ; Nylund, Sven ; Le Bel, Deborah
    Upper-ocean turbulence is central to the exchanges of heat, momentum, and gases across the air–sea interface and therefore plays a large role in weather and climate. Current understanding of upper-ocean mixing is lacking, often leading models to misrepresent mixed layer depths and sea surface temperature. In part, progress has been limited by the difficulty of measuring turbulence from fixed moorings that can simultaneously measure surface fluxes and upper-ocean stratification over long time periods. Here we introduce a direct wavenumber method for measuring turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rates ϵ from long-enduring moorings using pulse-coherent ADCPs. We discuss optimal programming of the ADCPs, a robust mechanical design for use on a mooring to maximize data return, and data processing techniques including phase-ambiguity unwrapping, spectral analysis, and a correction for instrument response. The method was used in the Salinity Processes Upper-Ocean Regional Study (SPURS) to collect two year-long datasets. We find that the mooring-derived TKE dissipation rates compare favorably to estimates made nearby from a microstructure shear probe mounted to a glider during its two separate 2-week missions for O(10−8) ≤ ϵ ≤ O(10−5) m2 s−3. Periods of disagreement between turbulence estimates from the two platforms coincide with differences in vertical temperature profiles, which may indicate that barrier layers can substantially modulate upper-ocean turbulence over horizontal scales of 1–10 km. We also find that dissipation estimates from two different moorings at 12.5 and at 7 m are in agreement with the surface buoyancy flux during periods of strong nighttime convection, consistent with classic boundary layer theory.
  • Thesis
    Diapycnal advection by double diffusion and turbulence in the ocean
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1999-09) St. Laurent, Louis C.
    Observations of diapycnal mixing rates are examined and related to diapycnal advection for both double-diffusive and turbulent regimes. The role of double-diffusive mixing at the site of the North Atlantic Tracer Release Experiment is considered. The strength of salt-finger mixing is analyzed in terms of the stability parameters for shear and double-diffusive convection, and a nondimensional ratio of the thermal and energy dissipation rates. While the model for turbulence describes most dissipation occurring in high shear, dissipation in low shear is better described by the salt-finger model, and a method for estimating the salt-finger enhancement of the diapycnal haline diffusivity over the thermal diffusivity is proposed. Best agreement between tracer-inferred mixing rates and microstructure based estimates is achieved when the salt-finger enhancement of haline flux is taken into account. The role of turbulence occurring above rough bathymetry in the abyssal Brazil Basin is also considered. The mixing levels along sloping bathymetry exceed the levels observed on ridge crests and canyon floors. Additionally, mixing levels modulate in phase with the spring-neap tidal cycle. A model of the dissipation rate is derived and used to specify the turbulent mixing rate and constrain the diapycnal advection in an inverse model for the steady circulation. The inverse model solution reveals the presence of a secondary circulation with zonal character. These results suggest that mixing in abyssal canyons plays an important role in the mass budget of Antarctic Bottom Water.
  • Article
    Dissipation processes in the Tongue of the Ocean
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-05-14) Hooper, James A. ; Baringer, Molly O. ; St. Laurent, Louis C. ; Dewar, William K. ; Nowacek, Douglas P.
    The Tongue of the Ocean (TOTO) region located within the Bahamas archipelago is a relatively understudied region in terms of both its biological and physical oceanographic characteristics. A prey-field mapping cruise took place in the fall between 15 September 2008 and 1 October 2008, consisting of a series of transects and “clovers” to study the spatial and temporal variability. The region is characterized by a deep scattering layer (DSL), which is preyed on by nekton that serves as the food for beaked whale and other whale species. This study marks the first of its kind where concurrent measurements of acoustic backscatter and turbulence have been conducted for a nekton scattering layer well below the euphotic zone. Turbulence data collected from a Deep Microstructure Profiler are compared to biological and shear data collected by a 38 kHz Simrad EK 60 echo sounder and a hydrographic Doppler sonar system, respectively. From these measurements, the primary processes responsible for the turbulent production in the TOTO region are assessed. The DSL around 500 m and a surface scattering layer (SSL) are investigated for raised ε values. Strong correlation between turbulence levels and scattering intensity of prey is generally found in the SSL with dissipation levels as large as ∼10−7 W kg−1, 3 orders of magnitude above background levels. In the DSL and during the diel vertical migration, dissipation levels ∼10−8 W kg−1 were observed.