Seasonal kinetic energy variability of near-inertial motions
Silverthorne, Katherine E.
Toole, John M.
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KeywordKinetic energy; Internal waves; Intraseasonal variability; North Atlantic Ocean; In situ observations
Seasonal variability of near-inertial horizontal kinetic energy is examined using observations from a series of McLane Moored Profiler moorings located at 39°N, 69°W in the western North Atlantic Ocean in combination with a one-dimensional, depth-integrated kinetic energy model. The time-mean kinetic energy and shear vertical wavenumber spectra of the high-frequency motions at the mooring site are in reasonable agreement with the Garrett–Munk internal wave description. Time series of depth-dependent and depth-integrated near-inertial kinetic energy are calculated from available mooring data after filtering to isolate near-inertial-frequency motions. These data document a pronounced seasonal cycle featuring a wintertime maximum in the depth-integrated near-inertial kinetic energy deriving chiefly from the variability in the upper 500 m of the water column. The seasonal signal in the near-inertial kinetic energy is most prominent for motions with vertical wavelengths greater than 100 m but observable wintertime enhancement is seen down to wavelengths of the order of 10 m. Rotary vertical wavenumber spectra exhibit a dominance of clockwise-with-depth energy, indicative of downward energy propagation and implying a surface energy source. A simple depth-integrated near-inertial kinetic energy model consisting of a wind forcing term and a dissipation term captures the order of magnitude of the observed near-inertial kinetic energy as well as its seasonal cycle.
Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2009. 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 39 (2009): 1035-1049, doi:10.1175/2008JPO3920.1.
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