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Effect of Small-Scale Topography on Eddy Dissipation in the Northern South China Sea

Zhibin YangaFrontier Science Center for Deep Ocean Multispheres and Earth System (FDOMES) and Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China

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Zhao JingaFrontier Science Center for Deep Ocean Multispheres and Earth System (FDOMES) and Physical Oceanography Laboratory, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China
bQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao, China

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Xiaoming ZhaicCentre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom

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Abstract

Mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous dynamical features, accounting for over 90% of the total kinetic energy of the ocean. However, the pathway for eddy energy dissipation has not been fully understood. Here we investigate the effect of small-scale topography on eddy dissipation in the northern South China Sea by comparing high-resolution ocean simulations with smooth and synthetically generated rough topography. The presence of rough topography is found to 1) significantly enhance viscous dissipation and instabilities within a few hundred meters above the rough bottom, especially in the slope region, and 2) change the relative importance of energy dissipation by bottom frictional drag and interior viscosity. The role of lee wave generation in eddy energy dissipation is investigated using a Lagrangian filter method. About one-third of the enhanced viscous energy dissipation in the rough topography experiment is associated with lee wave energy dissipation, with the remaining two-thirds explained by nonwave energy dissipation, at least partly as a result of the nonpropagating form drag effect.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

This article is included in the Oceanic Flow–Topography Interations Special Collection.

Corresponding authors: Zhao Jing, jingzhao198763@sina.com; Xiaoming Zhai, xiaoming.zhai@uea.ac.uk

Abstract

Mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous dynamical features, accounting for over 90% of the total kinetic energy of the ocean. However, the pathway for eddy energy dissipation has not been fully understood. Here we investigate the effect of small-scale topography on eddy dissipation in the northern South China Sea by comparing high-resolution ocean simulations with smooth and synthetically generated rough topography. The presence of rough topography is found to 1) significantly enhance viscous dissipation and instabilities within a few hundred meters above the rough bottom, especially in the slope region, and 2) change the relative importance of energy dissipation by bottom frictional drag and interior viscosity. The role of lee wave generation in eddy energy dissipation is investigated using a Lagrangian filter method. About one-third of the enhanced viscous energy dissipation in the rough topography experiment is associated with lee wave energy dissipation, with the remaining two-thirds explained by nonwave energy dissipation, at least partly as a result of the nonpropagating form drag effect.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

This article is included in the Oceanic Flow–Topography Interations Special Collection.

Corresponding authors: Zhao Jing, jingzhao198763@sina.com; Xiaoming Zhai, xiaoming.zhai@uea.ac.uk
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