How variable is mixing efficiency in the abyss?

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Ijichi, Takashi
St. Laurent, Louis C.
Polzin, Kurt L.
Toole, John M.
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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.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 47 (2020): e2019GL086813, doi: 10.1029/2019GL086813.
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Ijichi, T., St. Laurent, L., Polzin, K. L., & Toole, J. M. (2020). How variable is mixing efficiency in the abyss? Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2019GL086813.
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