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Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
,
A. J. George Nurser
,
Robert B. Scott
, and
John A. Goff

Abstract

The impact of small-scale topography on the ocean’s dynamical balance is investigated by quantifying the rates at which internal wave drag extracts (angular) momentum and vorticity from the general circulation. The calculation exploits the recent advent of two near-global descriptions of topographic roughness on horizontal scales on the order of 1–10 km, which play a central role in the generation of internal lee waves by geostrophic flows impinging on topography and have been hitherto unresolved by bathymetric datasets and ocean general circulation models alike. It is found that, while internal wave drag is a minor contributor to the ocean’s dynamical balance over much of the globe, it is a significant player in the dynamics of extensive areas of the ocean, most notably the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and several regions of enhanced small-scale topographic variance in the equatorial and Southern Hemisphere oceans. There, the contribution of internal wave drag to the ocean’s (angular) momentum and vorticity balances is generally on the order of ten to a few tens of percent of the dominant source and sink terms in each dynamical budget, which are respectively associated with wind forcing and form drag by topography with horizontal scales from 500 to 1000 km. It is thus suggested that the representation of internal wave drag in general circulation models may lead to significant changes in the deep ocean circulation of those regions. A theoretical scaling is derived that captures the basic dependence of internal wave drag on topographic roughness and near-bottom flow speed for most oceanographically relevant regimes.

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J. Alexander Brearley
,
Katy L. Sheen
,
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
,
David A. Smeed
, and
Stephanie Waterman

Abstract

Mesoscale eddies are universal features of the ocean circulation, yet the processes by which their energy is dissipated remain poorly understood. One hypothesis argues that the interaction of strong geostrophic flows with rough bottom topography effects an energy transfer between eddies and internal waves, with the breaking of these waves causing locally elevated dissipation focused near the sea floor. This study uses hydrographic and velocity data from a 1-yr mooring cluster deployment in the Southern Ocean to test this hypothesis. The moorings were located over a small (~10 km) topographic obstacle to the east of Drake Passage in a region of high eddy kinetic energy, and one was equipped with an ADCP at 2800-m depth from which internal wave shear variance and dissipation rates were calculated. Examination of the ADCP time series revealed a predominance of upward-propagating internal wave energy and a significant correlation (r = 0.45) between shear variance levels and subinertial near-bottom current speeds. Periods of strong near-bottom flow coincided with increased convergence of eddy-induced interfacial form stress in the bottom 1500 m. Predictions of internal wave energy radiation were made from theory using measured near-bottom current speeds, and the mean value of wave radiation (5.3 mW m−2) was sufficient to support the dissipated power calculated from the ADCP. A significant temporal correlation was also observed between radiated and dissipated power. Given the ubiquity of strong eddy flows and rough topography in the Southern Ocean, the transfer from eddy to internal wave energy is likely to be an important term in closing the ocean energy budget.

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Stephanie Waterman
,
Kurt L. Polzin
,
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
,
Katy L. Sheen
, and
Alexander Forryan

Abstract

Simultaneous full-depth microstructure measurements of turbulence and finestructure measurements of velocity and density are analyzed to investigate the relationship between turbulence and the internal wave field in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. These data reveal a systematic near-bottom overprediction of the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate by finescale parameterization methods in select locations. Sites of near-bottom overprediction are typically characterized by large near-bottom flow speeds and elevated topographic roughness. Further, lower-than-average shear-to-strain ratios indicative of a less near-inertial wave field, rotary spectra suggesting a predominance of upward internal wave energy propagation, and enhanced narrowband variance at vertical wavelengths on the order of 100 m are found at these locations. Finally, finescale overprediction is typically associated with elevated Froude numbers based on the near-bottom shear of the background flow, and a background flow with a systematic backing tendency. Agreement of microstructure- and finestructure-based estimates within the expected uncertainty of the parameterization away from these special sites, the reproducibility of the overprediction signal across various parameterization implementations, and an absence of indications of atypical instrument noise at sites of parameterization overprediction, all suggest that physics not encapsulated by the parameterization play a role in the fate of bottom-generated waves at these locations. Several plausible underpinning mechanisms based on the limited available evidence are discussed that offer guidance for future studies.

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Gillian M. Damerell
,
Karen J. Heywood
,
David P. Stevens
, and
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato

Abstract

Diapycnal mixing rates in the oceans have been shown to have a great deal of spatial variability, but the temporal variability has been little studied. Here results are presented from a method developed to calculate diapycnal diffusivity from moored acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) velocity shear profiles. An 18-month time series of diffusivity is presented from data taken by a LongRanger ADCP moored at 2400-m depth, 600 m above the seafloor, in Shag Rocks Passage, a deep passage in the North Scotia Ridge (Southern Ocean). The Polar Front is constrained to pass through this passage, and the strong currents and complex topography are expected to result in enhanced mixing. The spatial distribution of diffusivity in Shag Rocks Passage deduced from lowered ADCP shear is consistent with published values for similar regions, with diffusivity possibly as large as 90 × 10−4 m2 s−1 near the seafloor, decreasing to the expected background level of ~0.1 × 10−4 m2 s−1 in areas away from topography. The moored ADCP profiles spanned a depth range of 2400–1800 m; thus, the moored time series was obtained from a region of moderately enhanced diffusivity.

The diffusivity time series has a median of 3.3 × 10−4 m2 s−1 and a range from 0.5 × 10−4 to 57 × 10−4 m2 s−1. There is no significant signal at annual or semiannual periods, but there is evidence of signals at periods of approximately 14 days (likely due to the spring–neap tidal cycle) and at periods of 3.8 and 2.6 days most likely due to topographically trapped waves propagating around the local seamount. Using the observed stratification and an axisymmetric seamount, of similar dimensions to the one west of the mooring, in a model of baroclinic topographically trapped waves, produces periods of 3.8 and 2.6 days, in agreement with the signals observed. The diffusivity is anticorrelated with the rotary coefficient (indicating that stronger mixing occurs during times of upward energy propagation), which suggests that mixing occurs due to the breaking of internal waves generated at topography.

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Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
,
Kurt L. Polzin
,
Raffaele Ferrari
,
Jan D. Zika
, and
Alexander Forryan

Abstract

The relative roles of isoneutral stirring by mesoscale eddies and dianeutral stirring by small-scale turbulence in setting the large-scale temperature–salinity relation of the Southern Ocean against the action of the overturning circulation are assessed by analyzing a set of shear and temperature microstructure measurements across Drake Passage in a “triple decomposition” framework. It is shown that a picture of mixing and overturning across a region of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) may be constructed from a relatively modest number of microstructure profiles. The rates of isoneutral and dianeutral stirring are found to exhibit distinct, characteristic, and abrupt variations: most notably, a one to two orders of magnitude suppression of isoneutral stirring in the upper kilometer of the ACC frontal jets and an order of magnitude intensification of dianeutral stirring in the subpycnocline and deepest layers of the ACC. These variations balance an overturning circulation with meridional flows of O(1) mm s−1 across the ACC’s mean thermohaline structure. Isoneutral and dianeutral stirring play complementary roles in balancing the overturning, with isoneutral processes dominating in intermediate waters and the Upper Circumpolar Deep Water and dianeutral processes prevailing in lighter and denser layers.

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Loic Jullion
,
Karen J. Heywood
,
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
, and
David P. Stevens

Abstract

The confluence between the Brazil Current and the Malvinas Current [the Brazil–Malvinas Confluence (BMC)] in the Argentine Basin is characterized by a complicated thermohaline structure favoring the exchanges of mass, heat, and salt between the subtropical gyre and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Analysis of thermohaline properties of hydrographic sections in the BMC reveals strong interactions between the ACC and subtropical fronts. In the Subantarctic Front, Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW), Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW), and Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) warm (become saltier) by 0.4° (0.08), 0.3° (0.02), and 0.6°C (0.1), respectively. In the subtropical gyre, AAIW and North Atlantic Deep Water have cooled (freshened) by 0.4° (0.07) and 0.7°C (0.11), respectively.

To quantify those ACC–subtropical gyre interactions, a box inverse model surrounding the confluence is built. The model diagnoses a subduction of 16 ± 4 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of newly formed SAMW and AAIW under the subtropical gyre corresponding to about half of the total subduction rate of the South Atlantic found in previous studies. Cross-frontal heat (0.06 PW) and salt (2.4 × 1012 kg s−1) gains by the ACC in the BMC contribute to the meridional poleward heat and salt fluxes across the ACC. These estimates correspond to perhaps half of the total cross-ACC poleward heat flux. The authors’ results highlight the BMC as a key region in the subtropical–ACC exchanges.

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Michel Arhan
,
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
,
Karen J. Heywood
, and
David P. Stevens

Abstract

Hydrographic and lowered acoustic Doppler current profiler data along a line from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia via the Maurice Ewing Bank are used to estimate the flow of circumpolar water into the Argentine Basin, and to study the interaction of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current with the Falkland Plateau.

The estimated net transport of 129 ± 21 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) across the section is shared between three major current bands. One is associated with the Subantarctic Front (SAF; 52 ± 6 Sv), and the other two with branches of the Polar Front (PF) over the sill of the Falkland Plateau (44 ± 9 Sv) and in the northwestern Georgia Basin (45 ± 9 Sv). The latter includes a local reinforcement (∼20 Sv) by a deep anticyclonic recirculation around the Maurice Ewing Bank. While the classical hydrographic signature of the PF stands out in this eastbound branch, it is less distinguishable in the northbound branch over the plateau. Other circulation features are a southward entrainment of diluted North Atlantic Deep Water from the Argentine Basin over the eastern part of the Falkland Plateau, and an abyssal anticyclonic flow in the western Georgia Basin, opposite to what was generally assumed.

The different behavior of the SAF and PF at the Falkland Plateau (no structural modification of the former and partitioning of the latter) is attributed to the PF being deeper than the sill depth on the upstream side of the plateau, unlike the SAF. It is suggested that the partitioning takes place at a location where the 2500-m and 3000-m isobaths diverge at the southern edge of the plateau. The western branch of the PF crosses the plateau at a distance of ∼250 km to the east of the SAF. Comparison with a section across the Falkland Current farther downstream shows that its deep part subsequently joins the SAF on the northern side of the plateau where the 2000–3000 m isobaths converge in the steep Falkland Escarpment. The result of this two-stage bathymetric effect is a net transfer of at least 10 Sv from the PF to the SAF at the crossing of the Falkland Plateau.

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Jesse M. Cusack
,
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
,
David A. Smeed
, and
James B. Girton

Abstract

Lee waves are thought to play a prominent role in Southern Ocean dynamics, facilitating a transfer of energy from the jets of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to microscale, turbulent motions important in water mass transformations. Two EM-APEX profiling floats deployed in the Drake Passage during the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment (DIMES) independently measured a 120 ± 20-m vertical amplitude lee wave over the Shackleton Fracture Zone. A model for steady EM-APEX motion is developed to calculate absolute vertical water velocity, augmenting the horizontal velocity measurements made by the floats. The wave exhibits fluctuations in all three velocity components of over 15 cm s−1 and an intrinsic frequency close to the local buoyancy frequency. The wave is observed to transport energy and horizontal momentum vertically at respective peak rates of 1.3 ± 0.2 W m−2 and 8 ± 1 N m−2. The rate of turbulent kinetic energy dissipation is estimated using both Thorpe scales and a method that isolates high-frequency vertical kinetic energy and is found to be enhanced within the wave to values of order 10−7 W kg−1. The observed vertical flux of energy is significantly larger than expected from idealized numerical simulations and also larger than observed depth-integrated dissipation rates. These results provide the first unambiguous observation of a lee wave in the Southern Ocean with simultaneous measurements of its energetics and dynamics.

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Liam Brannigan
,
David P. Marshall
,
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
,
A. J. George Nurser
, and
Jan Kaiser

Abstract

Submesoscale processes have been extensively studied in observations and simulations of fronts. Recent idealized simulations show that submesoscale instabilities also occur in baroclinic mesoscale cyclones and anticyclones. The instabilities in the anticyclone grow faster and at coarser grid resolution than in the cyclone. The instabilities lead to larger restratification in the anticyclone than in the cyclone. The instabilities also lead to changes in the mean azimuthal jet around the anticyclone from 2-km resolution, but a similar effect only occurs in the cyclone at 0.25-km resolution. A numerical passive tracer experiment shows that submesoscale instabilities lead to deeper subduction in the interior of anticyclonic than cyclonic eddies because of outcropping isopycnals extending deeper into the thermocline in anticyclones. An energetic analysis suggests that both vertical shear production and vertical buoyancy fluxes are important in anticyclones but primarily vertical buoyancy fluxes occur in cyclones at these resolutions. The energy sources and sinks vary azimuthally around the eddies caused by the asymmetric effects of the Ekman buoyancy flux. Glider transects of a mesoscale anticyclone in the Tasman Sea show that water with low stratification and high oxygen concentrations is found in an anticyclone, in a manner that may be consistent with the model predictions for submesoscale subduction in mesoscale eddies.

Open access
Bieito Fernández-Castro
,
Dafydd Gwyn Evans
,
Eleanor Frajka-Williams
,
Clément Vic
, and
Alberto C. Naveira-Garabato

Abstract

A 4-month glider mission was analyzed to assess turbulent dissipation in an anticyclonic eddy at the western boundary of the subtropical North Atlantic. The eddy (radius ≈ 60 km) had a core of low potential vorticity between 100 and 450 m, with maximum radial velocities of 0.5 m s−1 and Rossby number ≈ −0.1. Turbulent dissipation was inferred from vertical water velocities derived from the glider flight model. Dissipation was suppressed in the eddy core (ε ≈ 5 × 10−10 W kg−1) and enhanced below it (>10−9 W kg−1). Elevated dissipation was coincident with quasiperiodic structures in the vertical velocity and pressure perturbations, suggesting internal waves as the drivers of dissipation. A heuristic ray-tracing approximation was used to investigate the wave–eddy interactions leading to turbulent dissipation. Ray-tracing simulations were consistent with two types of wave–eddy interactions that may induce dissipation: the trapping of near-inertial wave energy by the eddy’s relative vorticity, or the entry of an internal tide (generated at the nearby continental slope) to a critical layer in the eddy shear. The latter scenario suggests that the intense mesoscale field characterizing the western boundaries of ocean basins might act as a “leaky wall” controlling the propagation of internal tides into the basin’s interior.

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