Horizontal stirring over the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf: the spatial and temporal evolution of surface eddy kinetic energy
Kirincich, Anthony R.
Hodges, Benjamin A.
Flament, Pierre J.
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Keywordcoastal circulation; eddy kinetic energy; HF radar; mid atlantic bight; sub-mesoscale; energy cascade
This study examines the spatial and temporal variability of eddy kinetic energy over the Northeast Shelf using observations of surface currents from a unique array of six high frequency radar systems. Collected during summer and winter conditions over three consecutive years, the horizontal scales present were examined in the context of local wind and hydrographic variability, which were sampled concurrently from moorings and autonomous surface vehicles. While area-averaged mean kinetic energy at the surface was tightly coupled to wind forcing, eddy kinetic energy was not, and was lower in magnitude in winter than summer in all areas. Kinetic energy wavenumber spectral slopes were generally near k−5/3, but varied seasonally, spatially, and between years. In contrast, wavenumber spectra of surface temperature and salinity along repeat transect lines had sharp k−3 spectral slopes with little seasonal or inter-annual variability. Radar-based estimates of spectral kinetic energy fluxes revealed a mean transition scale of energy near 18 km during stratified months, but suggested much longer scales during winter. Overall, eddy kinetic energy was unrelated to local winds, but the up- or down-scale flux of kinetic energy was tied to wind events and, more weakly, to local density gradients.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2022. 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 127(6), (2022): e2021JC017307, https://doi.org/10.1029/2021jc017307.
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Suggested CitationKirincich, A., Hodges, B., Flament, P., & Futch, V. (2022). Horizontal stirring over the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf: the spatial and temporal evolution of surface eddy kinetic energy. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 127(6), e2021JC017307.
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