The Gulf Stream (GS) is one of the strongest ocean currents on the planet. Eddy-rich resolution models are needed to properly represent the dynamics of the GS; however, kinetic energy (KE) can be in excess in these models if not dissipated efficiently. The question of how and how much energy is dissipated and in particular how it flows through ocean scales thus remains an important and largely unanswered question. Using a high-resolution (∼2 km) ocean model [Coastal and Regional Ocean Community (CROCO)], we characterize the spatial and temporal distribution of turbulent cascades in the GS based on a coarse-grained method. We show that the balanced flow is associated with an inverse cascade while the forward cascade is explained by ageostrophic advection associated with frontogenesis. Downscale fluxes are dominant at scales smaller than about 20 km near the surface and most intense at the GS North Wall. There is also strong seasonal variability in KE flux, with the forward cascade intensifying in winter and the inverse cascade later in spring. The forward cascade, which represents an interior route to dissipation, is compared with both numerical and boundary dissipation processes. The contribution of interior dissipation is an order of magnitude smaller than that of the other energy sinks. We thus evaluate the sensitivity of horizontal momentum advection schemes on energy dissipation and show that the decrease in numerical dissipation in a high-order scheme leads to an increase in dissipation at the boundaries, not in the downscale flux.
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