(American Geophysical Union, 2019-02-27)
Gula, Jonathan; Blacic, Tanya M.; Todd, Robert E.
Seismic images and glider sections of the Gulf Stream front along the U.S. eastern seaboard capture deep, lens‐shaped submesoscale features. These features have radii of 5–20 km, thicknesses of 150–300 m, and are located at depths greater than 500 m. These are typical signatures of anticyclonic submesoscale coherent vortices. A submesoscale‐resolving realistic simulation, which reproduces submesoscale coherent vortices with the same characteristics, is used to analyze their generation mechanism. Submesoscale coherent vortices are primarily generated where the Gulf Stream meets the Charleston Bump, a deep topographic feature, due to the frictional effects and intense mixing in the wake of the topography. These submesoscale coherent vortices can transport waters from the Charleston Bump's thick bottom mixed layer over long distances and spread them within the subtropical gyre. Their net effect on heat and salt distribution remains to be quantified.