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  • Journal of Physical Oceanography x
  • Air–Sea Interactions from the Diurnal to the Intraseasonal during the PISTON, MISOBOB, and CAMP2Ex Observational Campaigns in the Tropics x
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Kenneth G. Hughes, James N. Moum, and Emily L. Shroyer

Abstract

The daily formation of near-surface ocean stratification caused by penetrating solar radiation modifies heat fluxes through the air–sea interface, turbulence dissipation in the mixed layer, and the vertical profile of lateral transport. The transport is altered because momentum from wind is trapped in a thin near-surface layer, the diurnal warm layer. We investigate the dynamics of this layer, with particular attention to the vertical shear of horizontal velocity. We first develop a quantitative link between the near-surface shear components that relates the crosswind component to the inertial turning of the along-wind component. Three days of high-resolution velocity observations confirm this relation. Clear colocation of shear and stratification with Richardson numbers near 0.25 indicate marginal instability. Idealized numerical modeling is then invoked to extrapolate below the observed wind speeds. This modeling, together with a simple energetic scaling analysis, provides a rule of thumb that the diurnal shear evolves differently above and below a 2 m s−1 wind speed, with limited sensitivity of this threshold to latitude and mean net surface heat flux. Only above this wind speed is the energy input sufficient to overcome the stabilizing buoyancy flux and thereby induce marginal instability. The differing shear regimes explain differences in the timing and magnitude of diurnal sea surface temperature anomalies.

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D. A. Cherian, E. L. Shroyer, H. W. Wijesekera, and J. N. Moum

Abstract

We describe the seasonal cycle of mixing in the top 30–100 m of the Bay of Bengal as observed by moored mixing meters (χpods) deployed along 8°N between 85.5° and 88.5°E in 2014 and 2015. All χpod observations were combined to form seasonal-mean vertical profiles of turbulence diffusivity K T in the top 100 m. The strongest turbulence is observed during the southwest and postmonsoon seasons, that is, between July and November. The northeast monsoon (December–February) is a period of similarly high mean K T but an order of magnitude lower median K T, a sign of energetic episodic mixing events forced by near-inertial shear events. The months of March and April, a period of weak wind forcing and low near-inertial shear amplitude, are characterized by near-molecular values of K T in the thermocline for weeks at a time. Strong mixing events coincide with the passage of surface-forced downward-propagating near-inertial waves and with the presence of enhanced low-frequency shear associated with the Summer Monsoon Current and other mesoscale features between July and October. This seasonal cycle of mixing is consequential. We find that monthly averaged turbulent transport of salt out of the salty Arabian Sea water between August and January is significant relative to local EP. The magnitude of this salt flux is approximately that required to close model-based salt budgets for the upper Bay of Bengal.

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Sebastian Essink, Verena Hormann, Luca R. Centurioni, and Amala Mahadevan

Abstract

A cluster of 45 drifters deployed in the Bay of Bengal is tracked for a period of four months. Pair dispersion statistics, from observed drifter trajectories and simulated trajectories based on surface geostrophic velocity, are analyzed as a function of drifter separation and time. Pair dispersion suggests nonlocal dynamics at submesoscales of 1–20 km, likely controlled by the energetic mesoscale eddies present during the observations. Second-order velocity structure functions and their Helmholtz decomposition, however, suggest local dispersion and divergent horizontal flow at scales below 20 km. This inconsistency cannot be explained by inertial oscillations alone, as has been reported in recent studies, and is likely related to other nondispersive processes that impact structure functions but do not enter pair dispersion statistics. At scales comparable to the deformation radius LD, which is approximately 60 km, we find dynamics in agreement with Richardson’s law and observe local dispersion in both pair dispersion statistics and second-order velocity structure functions.

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Dipanjan Chaudhuri, Debasis Sengupta, Eric D’Asaro, R. Venkatesan, and M. Ravichandran

Abstract

Cyclone Phailin, which developed over the Bay of Bengal in October 2013, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones to make landfall in India. We study the response of the salinity-stratified north Bay of Bengal to Cyclone Phailin with the help of hourly observations from three open-ocean moorings 200 km from the cyclone track, a mooring close to the cyclone track, daily sea surface salinity (SSS) from Aquarius, and a one-dimensional model. Before the arrival of Phailin, moored observations showed a shallow layer of low-salinity water lying above a deep, warm “barrier” layer. As the winds strengthened, upper-ocean mixing due to enhanced vertical shear of storm-generated currents led to a rapid increase of near-surface salinity. Sea surface temperature (SST) cooled very little, however, because the prestorm subsurface ocean was warm. Aquarius SSS increased by 1.5–3 psu over an area of nearly one million square kilometers in the north Bay of Bengal. A one-dimensional model, with initial conditions and surface forcing based on moored observations, shows that cyclone winds rapidly eroded the shallow, salinity-dominated density stratification and mixed the upper ocean to 40–50-m depth, consistent with observations. Model sensitivity experiments indicate that changes in ocean mixed layer temperature in response to Cyclone Phailin are small. A nearly isothermal, salinity-stratified barrier layer in the prestorm upper ocean has two effects. First, near-surface density stratification reduces the depth of vertical mixing. Second, mixing is confined to the nearly isothermal layer, resulting in little or no SST cooling.

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