Using the recently developed multiscale window transform and multiscale energy and vorticity analysis methods, this study diagnoses the climatological characteristics of the nonlinear mutual interactions among mesoscale eddies, low-frequency (seasonal to interannual) fluctuations, and the decadally modulating mean flow in the Agulhas Retroflection Current System (ARCS). It is found that mesoscale eddies are generated primarily in the retroflection region by mixed barotropic and baroclinic instabilities. The barotropic instability dominates the generation of eddy kinetic energy (EKE) here, contributing power roughly 10 times larger than the baroclinic one. These locally generated eddies are transported away. In the rings drift and meanders regions, the nonlocal transport serves as an important energy source for the eddy field, making a contribution comparable to that of the baroclinic instability for the EKE production. Contrarily, in the stable region, the EKE is generated mainly due to the baroclinic instability. In most of the ARCS area, the kinetic energy (KE) is further transferred inversely from mesoscale eddies to other lower-frequency motions. In particular, in the retroflection, rings drift, and stable regions, the inverse KE cascade plays a leading role in generating seasonal–interannual fluctuations, providing roughly 3–5 times as much power as the forward KE cascade from the mean flow and the advection effect. In the meanders region, however, the forward cascade contributes 4 times more KE to the low-frequency variabilities than the inverse one. All the results provide a model-based benchmark for future studies on physical processes and dynamics at different scales in the ARCS.
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