Can we detect submesoscale motions in drifter pair dispersion?
Centurioni, Luca R.
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A cluster of 45 drifters deployed in the Bay of Bengal is tracked for a period of four months. Pair dispersion statistics, from observed drifter trajectories and simulated trajectories based on surface geostrophic velocity, are analyzed as a function of drifter separation and time. Pair dispersion suggests nonlocal dynamics at submesoscales of 1–20 km, likely controlled by the energetic mesoscale eddies present during the observations. Second-order velocity structure functions and their Helmholtz decomposition, however, suggest local dispersion and divergent horizontal flow at scales below 20 km. This inconsistency cannot be explained by inertial oscillations alone, as has been reported in recent studies, and is likely related to other nondispersive processes that impact structure functions but do not enter pair dispersion statistics. At scales comparable to the deformation radius LD, which is approximately 60 km, we find dynamics in agreement with Richardson’s law and observe local dispersion in both pair dispersion statistics and second-order velocity structure functions.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2019. 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 49(9), (2019): 2237-2254, doi: 10.1175/JPO-D-18-0181.1.
Suggested CitationEssink, S., Hormann, V., Centurioni, L. R., & Mahadevan, A. (2019). Can we detect submesoscale motions in drifter pair dispersion? Journal of Physical Oceanography, 49(9), 2237-2254.
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