Barotropic and baroclinic inverse kinetic energy cascade in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current

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  • 1 Key Laboratory of Ocean Circulation and Waves, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China; and Department of mathematics and statistics, Ludong University, Yantai, China,
  • 2 Laboratory for Ocean and Climate Dynamics, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China; Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao, China; Center for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, China
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Abstract

Stratified geostrophic turbulence theory predicts an inverse energy cascade for the barotropic (BT) mode. Satellite altimetry has revealed a net inverse cascade in the baroclinic (BC) mode. Here the spatial variabilities of BT and BC kinetic energy fluxes in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) were investigated using ECCO2 data, which synthesizes satellite data and in situ measurements with an eddy-permitting general circulation models containing realistic bathymetry and wind forcing. The BT and BC inverse kinetic energy cascades both reveal complex spatial variations that could not be explained fully by classical arguments. For example, the BC injection scales match better with most unstable scales than with the first-mode deformation scales, but the opposite is true for the BT mode. In addition, the BT and BC arrest scales do not follow the Rhines scale well in term of spatial variation, but show better consistency with their own energy-containing scales. The reverse cascade of the BT and BC modes was found related to their EKE, and better correlation was found between the BT inverse cascade and barotropization. Speculations of the findings were proposed. however, further observations and modeling experiments are needed to test these interpretations. Spectral flux anisotropy exhibits a feature associated with oceanic jets that is consistent with classical expectations. Specifically, the spectral flux along the along-stream direction remains negative at scales up to that of the studied domain (~2000km), while that in the perpendicular direction becomes positive close to the scale of the width of a typical jet.

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to Yongsheng Xu (email: yongsheng.xu@alumni.caltech.edu)

Hongjie Li and Yongsheng Xu are co-first authors.

Abstract

Stratified geostrophic turbulence theory predicts an inverse energy cascade for the barotropic (BT) mode. Satellite altimetry has revealed a net inverse cascade in the baroclinic (BC) mode. Here the spatial variabilities of BT and BC kinetic energy fluxes in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) were investigated using ECCO2 data, which synthesizes satellite data and in situ measurements with an eddy-permitting general circulation models containing realistic bathymetry and wind forcing. The BT and BC inverse kinetic energy cascades both reveal complex spatial variations that could not be explained fully by classical arguments. For example, the BC injection scales match better with most unstable scales than with the first-mode deformation scales, but the opposite is true for the BT mode. In addition, the BT and BC arrest scales do not follow the Rhines scale well in term of spatial variation, but show better consistency with their own energy-containing scales. The reverse cascade of the BT and BC modes was found related to their EKE, and better correlation was found between the BT inverse cascade and barotropization. Speculations of the findings were proposed. however, further observations and modeling experiments are needed to test these interpretations. Spectral flux anisotropy exhibits a feature associated with oceanic jets that is consistent with classical expectations. Specifically, the spectral flux along the along-stream direction remains negative at scales up to that of the studied domain (~2000km), while that in the perpendicular direction becomes positive close to the scale of the width of a typical jet.

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to Yongsheng Xu (email: yongsheng.xu@alumni.caltech.edu)

Hongjie Li and Yongsheng Xu are co-first authors.

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