Partitioning of kinetic energy in the Arctic Ocean's Beaufort Gyre
Krishfield, Richard A.
Manucharyan, Georgy E.
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KeywordBeaufort Gyre kinetic energy; Mesoscale eddies; Energy pathways; Barotropic and baroclinic modes
Kinetic energy (KE) in the Arctic Ocean's Beaufort Gyre is dominated by the mesoscale eddy field that plays a central role in the transport of freshwater, heat, and biogeochemical tracers. Understanding Beaufort Gyre KE variability sheds light on how this freshwater reservoir responds to wind forcing and sea ice and ocean changes. The evolution and fate of mesoscale eddies relate to energy pathways in the ocean (e.g., the exchange of energy between barotropic and baroclinic modes). Mooring measurements of horizontal velocities in the Beaufort Gyre are analyzed to partition KE into barotropic and baroclinic modes and explore their evolution. We find that a significant fraction of water column KE is in the barotropic and the first two baroclinic modes. We explain this energy partitioning by quantifying the energy transfer coefficients between the vertical modes using the quasi‐geostrophic potential vorticity conservation equations with a specific background stratification observed in the Beaufort Gyre. We find that the quasi‐geostrophic vertical mode interactions uphold the persistence of KE in the first two baroclinic modes, consistent with observations. Our results explain the specific role of halocline structure on KE evolution in the gyre and suggest depressed transfer to the barotropic mode. This limits the capacity for frictional dissipation at the sea floor and suggests that energy dissipation via sea ice‐ocean drag may be prominent.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2018. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 123 (2018): 4806-4819, doi:10.1029/2018JC014037.
Suggested CitationJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 123 (2018): 4806-4819
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