Abstract

Global estimates are presented of the fraction q of wind-generated near-inertial wave power available for local turbulent dissipation under the assumption that modes 1–3 propagate “far” and the higher modes remain to eventually break. Using climatological stratification profiles and mixed layer depth, the modal distribution of near-inertial energy flux is computed following Gill's classic 1984 work by projecting a slab flow in the mixed layer onto the dynamical modes. Global maps and zonal-mean profiles are presented, which show a global-mean value of q = 0.63 and 0.75 for winter and summer profiles, respectively. The simplicity of the calculation makes it of potential use in parameterizations of near-inertial breaking in climate simulations.

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