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The Cycle of Turbulent Dissipation in the Presence of Tidal Straining

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  • 1 School of Ocean Sciences, University of Wales Bangor, Menai Bridge, Anglesey, United Kingdom
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Abstract

In regions of large horizontal density gradient, tidal straining acts to produce a periodic component of stratification that interacts with turbulent mixing to control water column structure and flow. A 25-h series of measurements of the rate of dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy (ϵ) in the Liverpool Bay region of freshwater influence (ROFI) have revealed the form of this interaction and indicate substantial differences from regions where horizontal gradients are weak. In the ROFI system there is a pronounced difference between flood and ebb regimes. During the ebb the water column stratifies and strong dissipation is confined to the lower half of the water column. By contrast, during the flood, stratification is eroded with complete vertical mixing occurring at high water and high values of dissipation (3 mW m−3) extending throughout the water column. The cycle of dissipation is therefore predominantly semidiurnal in the upper layers whereas, near the bottom boundary, the principal variation is at the M4 frequency as observed in regions of horizontal uniformity. Toward the end of the flood phase of the cycle, tidal straining produces instabilities in the water column that release additional energy for convective mixing. Confirmation of increased vertical motions throughout the water column during the late flood and at high water is provided by measurements of vertical velocity and the error velocity from a bottom-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler.

Corresponding author address: Tom Rippeth, School of Ocean Sciences, University of Wales Bangor, Menai Bridge, Anglesey LL59 5EY, United Kingdom. Email: t.p.rippeth@bangor.ac.uk

Abstract

In regions of large horizontal density gradient, tidal straining acts to produce a periodic component of stratification that interacts with turbulent mixing to control water column structure and flow. A 25-h series of measurements of the rate of dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy (ϵ) in the Liverpool Bay region of freshwater influence (ROFI) have revealed the form of this interaction and indicate substantial differences from regions where horizontal gradients are weak. In the ROFI system there is a pronounced difference between flood and ebb regimes. During the ebb the water column stratifies and strong dissipation is confined to the lower half of the water column. By contrast, during the flood, stratification is eroded with complete vertical mixing occurring at high water and high values of dissipation (3 mW m−3) extending throughout the water column. The cycle of dissipation is therefore predominantly semidiurnal in the upper layers whereas, near the bottom boundary, the principal variation is at the M4 frequency as observed in regions of horizontal uniformity. Toward the end of the flood phase of the cycle, tidal straining produces instabilities in the water column that release additional energy for convective mixing. Confirmation of increased vertical motions throughout the water column during the late flood and at high water is provided by measurements of vertical velocity and the error velocity from a bottom-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler.

Corresponding author address: Tom Rippeth, School of Ocean Sciences, University of Wales Bangor, Menai Bridge, Anglesey LL59 5EY, United Kingdom. Email: t.p.rippeth@bangor.ac.uk

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