Evaluating salt-fingering theories
St. Laurent, Louis C.
Schmitt, Raymond W.
Toole, John M.
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The NATRE fine- and microstructure data set is revisited to test salt-finger amplitude theories. Dependences of the mixing efficiency Γ, microscale buoyancy Reynolds number Re and thermal Cox number CxT on 5-m density ratio Rρ and gradient Richardson number Ri are examined. The observed mixing efficiency is too high to be explained by linear fastest-growing fingers but can be reproduced by wavenumbers 0.5-0.9 times lower than the fastest-growing wavenumber. Constraining these fingers with a hybrid wave/finger Froude number or a finger Reynolds number cannot reproduce the observed trends with Rρ or Ri, respectively. This suggests that background shear has no influence on finger amplitudes. Constraining average amplitudes of these lower-wavenumber fingers with finger Richardson number Rif ~ 0.2 reproduces the observed dependence of Re and CxT on density ratio Rρ and Ri at all but the lowest observed density ratio (Rρ = 1.3). Separately relaxing the assumptions of viscous control, dominance of a single mode and tall narrow fingers does not explain the difference between theory and data at low Rρ for a critical Rif ~ 0.2.
Author Posting. © Sears Foundation for Marine Research, 2008. This article is posted here by permission of Sears Foundation for Marine Research for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Marine Research 66 (2008): 413-440, doi:10.1357/002224008787157467.