Turbulent mixing variability in an energetic standing meander of the Southern Ocean

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Diapycnal mixing
Inertia-gravity waves
Ocean dynamics
This study presents novel observational estimates of turbulent dissipation and mixing in a standing meander between the Southeast Indian Ridge and the Macquarie Ridge in the Southern Ocean. By applying a finescale parameterization on the temperature, salinity, and velocity profiles collected from Electromagnetic Autonomous Profiling Explorer (EM-APEX) floats in the upper 1600 m, we estimated the intensity and spatial distribution of dissipation rate and diapycnal mixing along the float tracks and investigated the sources. The indirect estimates indicate strong spatial and temporal variability of turbulent mixing varying from O(10−6) to O(10−3) m2 s−1 in the upper 1600 m. Elevated turbulent mixing is mostly associated with the Subantarctic Front (SAF) and mesoscale eddies. In the upper 500 m, enhanced mixing is associated with downward-propagating wind-generated near-inertial waves as well as the interaction between cyclonic eddies and upward-propagating internal waves. In the study region, the local topography does not play a role in turbulent mixing in the upper part of the water column, which has similar values in profiles over rough and smooth topography. However, both remotely generated internal tides and lee waves could contribute to the upward-propagating energy. Our results point strongly to the generation of turbulent mixing through the interaction of internal waves and the intense mesoscale eddy field.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2022. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 52(8), (2022): 1593-1611, https://doi.org/10.1175/jpo-d-21-0180.1.
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Cyriac, A., Phillips, H., Bindoff, N., & Polzin, K. (2022). Turbulent mixing variability in an energetic standing meander of the Southern Ocean. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 52(8), 1593-1611.
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