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Dipanjan Chaudhuri
,
Debasis Sengupta
,
Eric D’Asaro
,
J. Thomas Farrar
,
Manikandan Mathur
, and
Sundar Ranganathan

Abstract

We study the near-inertial response of the salinity-stratified north Bay of Bengal to monsoonal wind forcing using six years of hourly observations from four moorings. The mean annual energy input from surface winds to near-inertial mixed-layer currents is 10–20 kJ/m2, occurring mainly in distinct synoptic “events” from April to September. A total of fifteen events are analyzed: Seven when the ocean is capped by a thin layer of low-salinity river water (fresh) and eight when it is not (salty). The average near-inertial energy input from winds is 40% higher in the fresh cases than in the salty cases. During the fresh events, (A) mixed layer near-inertial motions decay about two times faster, and (B) near-inertial kinetic energy below the mixed layer is reduced by at least a factor of three relative to the salty cases. The near-inertial horizontal wavelength was measured for one fresh and one salty event; the fresh was about three times shorter initially. A linear model of near-inertial wave propagation tuned to these data reproduces (B); the thin (10 m) mixed layers during the fresh events excite high modes, which propagate more slowly than the low modes excited by the thicker (40 m) mixed layers in the salty events. The model does not reproduce (A); the rapid decay of the mixed layer inertial motions in the fresh events is not explained by linear wave propagation at the resolved scales; a different and currently unknown set of processes is likely responsible.

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Eric A. D'Asaro
,
Charles C. Eriksen
,
Murray D. Levine
,
Clayton A. paulson
,
Peter Niiler
, and
Pim Van Meurs

Abstract

A strong, isolated October storm generated 0.35–0.7 m s−1 inertia] frequency currents in the 40-m deep mixed layer of a 300 km×300 km region of the northeast Pacific Ocean. The authors describe the evolution of these currents and the background flow in which they evolve for nearly a month following the storm. Instruments included CTD profilers, 36 surface drifters, an array of 7 moorings, and air-deployed velocity profilers. The authors then test whether the theory of linear internal waves propagating in a homogeneous ocean can explain the observed evolution of the inertial frequency currents.

The subinertial frequency flow is weak, with typical currents of 5 cm s−1, and steady over the period of interest. The storm generates inertial frequency currents in and somewhat below the mixed layer with a horizontal scale much larger than the Rossby radius of deformation, reflecting the large-scale and rapid translation speed of the storm. This scale is too large for significant linear propagation of the inertial currents to occur. It steadily decreases owing to the latitudinal variation in f, that is, β, until after about 10 days it becomes sufficiently small for wave propagation to occur. Inertial energy then spreads downward from the mixed layer, decreasing the mixed layer inertial energy and increasing the inertial energy below the mixed layer. A strong maximum in inertial energy is formed at 100 m ("the Beam"). By 21 days after the storm. both mixed layer inertial energy and inertial frequency shear maximum just below the mixed layer have been reduced to background levels. The total depth-average inertial energy decreases by about 40% during this period.

Linear internal wave theory can only partially explain the observed evolution of the inertial frequency currents. The decrease in horizontal wavelength is accurately predicted as due to the β effect. The decrease in depth-average inertial energy is explained by southward propagation of the lowest few modes. The superinertial frequency and clockwise rotation of phase with depth are qualitatively consistent with linear theory. However, linear theory underpredicts the initial rate at which inertial energy is lost from the mixed layer by 20%–50% and cannot explain the decrease of mixed layer energy and shear to background levels in 21 days.

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Tyler J. Rabe
,
Tobias Kukulka
,
Isaac Ginis
,
Tetsu Hara
,
Brandon G. Reichl
,
Eric A. D’Asaro
,
Ramsey R. Harcourt
, and
Peter P. Sullivan

Abstract

Extreme winds and complex wave fields drive upper-ocean turbulence in tropical cyclone conditions. Motivated by Lagrangian float observations of bulk vertical velocity variance (VVV) under Hurricane Gustav (2008), upper-ocean turbulence is investigated based on large-eddy simulation (LES) of the wave-averaged Navier–Stokes equations. To realistically capture wind- and wave-driven Langmuir turbulence (LT), the LES model imposes the Stokes drift vector from spectral wave simulations; both the LES and wave model are forced by the NOAA Hurricane Research Division (HRD) surface wind analysis product. Results strongly suggest that without LT effects simulated VVV underestimates the observed VVV. LT increases the VVV, indicating that it plays a significant role in upper-ocean turbulence dynamics. Consistent with observations, the LES predicts a suppression of VVV near the hurricane eye due to wind-wave misalignment. However, this decrease is weaker and of shorter duration than that observed, potentially due to large-scale horizontal advection not present in the LES. Both observations and simulations are consistent with a highly variable upper ocean turbulence field beneath tropical cyclone cores. Bulk VVV, a TKE budget analysis, and anisotropy coefficient (ratio of horizontal to vertical velocity variances) profiles all indicate that LT is suppressed to levels closer to that of shear turbulence (ST) due to misaligned wind and wave fields. VVV approximately scales with the directional surface layer Langmuir number. Such a scaling provides guidance for the development of an upper-ocean boundary layer parameterization that explicitly depends on sea state.

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Ren-Chieh Lien
,
Eric A. D’Asaro
,
Frank Henyey
,
Ming-Huei Chang
,
Tswen-Yung Tang
, and
Yiing-Jang Yang

Abstract

Large-amplitude (100–200 m) nonlinear internal waves (NLIWs) were observed on the continental slope in the northern South China Sea nearly diurnally during the spring tide. The evolution of one NLIW as it propagated up the continental slope is described. The NLIW arrived at the slope as a nearly steady-state solitary depression wave. As it propagated up the slope, the wave propagation speed C decreased dramatically from 2 to 1.3 m s−1, while the maximum along-wave current speed U max remained constant at 2 m s−1. As U max exceeded C, the NLIW reached its breaking limit and formed a subsurface trapped core with closed streamlines in the coordinate frame of the propagating wave. The trapped core consisted of two counter-rotating vortices feeding a jet within the core. It was highly turbulent with 10–50-m density overturnings caused by the vortices acting on the background stratification, with an estimated turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate of O(10−4) W kg−1 and an eddy diffusivity of O(10−1) m2 s−1. The core mixed continually with the surrounding water and created a wake of mixed water, observed as an isopycnal salinity anomaly. As the trapped core formed, the NLIW became unsteady and dissipative and broke into a large primary wave and a smaller wave. Although shoaling alone can lead to wave fission, the authors hypothesize that the wave breaking and the trapped core evolution may further trigger the fission process. These processes of wave fission and dissipation continued so that the NLIW evolved from a single deep-water solitary wave as it approached the continental slope into a train of smaller waves on the Dongsha Plateau. Observed properties, including wave width, amplitude, and propagation speed, are reasonably predicted by a fully nonlinear steady-state internal wave model, with better agreement in the deeper water. The agreement of observed and modeled propagation speed is improved when a reasonable vertical profile of background current is included in the model.

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Daniel B. Whitt
,
Leif N. Thomas
,
Jody M. Klymak
,
Craig M. Lee
, and
Eric A. D’Asaro

Abstract

High-resolution, nearly Lagrangian observations of velocity and density made in the North Wall of the Gulf Stream reveal banded shear structures characteristic of near-inertial waves (NIWs). Here, the current follows submesoscale dynamics, with Rossby and Richardson numbers near one, and the vertical vorticity is positive. This allows for a unique analysis of the interaction of NIWs with a submesoscale current dominated by cyclonic as opposed to anticyclonic vorticity. Rotary spectra reveal that the vertical shear vector rotates primarily clockwise with depth and with time at frequencies near and above the local Coriolis frequency f. At some depths, more than half of the measured shear variance is explained by clockwise rotary motions with frequencies between f and 1.7f. The dominant superinertial frequencies are consistent with those inferred from a dispersion relation for NIWs in submesoscale currents that depends on the observed aspect ratio of the wave shear as well as the vertical vorticity, baroclinicity, and stratification of the balanced flow. These observations motivate a ray tracing calculation of superinertial wave propagation in the North Wall, where multiple filaments of strong cyclonic vorticity strongly modify wave propagation. The calculation shows that the minimum permissible frequency for inertia–gravity waves is mostly greater than the Coriolis frequency, and superinertial waves can be trapped and amplified at slantwise critical layers between cyclonic vortex filaments, providing a new plausible explanation for why the observed shear variance is dominated by superinertial waves.

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Leif N. Thomas
,
John R. Taylor
,
Eric A. D’Asaro
,
Craig M. Lee
,
Jody M. Klymak
, and
Andrey Shcherbina

Abstract

The passage of a winter storm over the Gulf Stream observed with a Lagrangian float and hydrographic and velocity surveys provided a unique opportunity to study how the interaction of inertial oscillations, the front, and symmetric instability (SI) shapes the stratification, shear, and turbulence in the upper ocean under unsteady forcing. During the storm, the rapid rise and rotation of the winds excited inertial motions. Acting on the front, these sheared motions modulate the stratification in the surface boundary layer. At the same time, cooling and downfront winds generated a symmetrically unstable flow. The observed turbulent kinetic energy dissipation exceeded what could be attributed to atmospheric forcing, implying SI drew energy from the front. The peak excess dissipation, which occurred just prior to a minimum in stratification, surpassed that predicted for steady SI turbulence, suggesting the importance of unsteady dynamics. The measurements are interpreted using a large-eddy simulation (LES) and a stability analysis configured with parameters taken from the observations. The stability analysis illustrates how SI more efficiently extracts energy from a front via shear production during periods when inertial motions reduce stratification. Diagnostics of the energetics of SI from the LES highlight the temporal variability in shear production but also demonstrate that the time-averaged energy balance is consistent with a theoretical scaling that has previously been tested only for steady forcing. As the storm passed and the winds and cooling subsided, the boundary layer restratified and the thermal wind balance was reestablished in a manner reminiscent of geostrophic adjustment.

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Peter G. Black
,
Eric A. D'Asaro
,
William M. Drennan
,
Jeffrey R. French
,
Pearn P. Niiler
,
Thomas B. Sanford
,
Eric J. Terrill
,
Edward J. Walsh
, and
Jun A. Zhang

The Coupled Boundary Layer Air–Sea Transfer (CBLAST) field program, conducted from 2002 to 2004, has provided a wealth of new air–sea interaction observations in hurricanes. The wind speed range for which turbulent momentum and moisture exchange coefficients have been derived based upon direct flux measurements has been extended by 30% and 60%, respectively, from airborne observations in Hurricanes Fabian and Isabel in 2003. The drag coefficient (C D ) values derived from CBLAST momentum flux measurements show C D becoming invariant with wind speed near a 23 m s−1 threshold rather than a hurricane-force threshold near 33 m s−1 . Values above 23 m s−1 are lower than previous open-ocean measurements.

The Dalton number estimates (C E ) derived from CBLAST moisture flux measurements are shown to be invariant with wind speeds up to 30 m s −1 which is in approximate agreement with previous measurements at lower winds. These observations imply a C E /C D ratio of approximately 0.7, suggesting that additional energy sources are necessary for hurricanes to achieve their maximum potential intensity. One such additional mechanism for augmented moisture flux in the boundary layer might be “roll vortex” or linear coherent features, observed by CBLAST 2002 measurements to have wavelengths of 0.9–1.2 km. Linear features of the same wavelength range were observed in nearly concurrent RADARSAT Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery.

As a complement to the aircraft measurement program, arrays of drifting buoys and subsurface floats were successfully deployed ahead of Hurricanes Fabian (2003) and Frances (2004) [16 (6) and 38 (14) drifters (floats), respectively, in the two storms]. An unprecedented set of observations was obtained, providing a four-dimensional view of the ocean response to a hurricane for the first time ever. Two types of surface drifters and three types of floats provided observations of surface and subsurface oceanic currents, temperature, salinity, gas exchange, bubble concentrations, and surface wave spectra to a depth of 200 m on a continuous basis before, during, and after storm passage, as well as surface atmospheric observations of wind speed (via acoustic hydrophone) and direction, rain rate, and pressure. Float observations in Frances (2004) indicated a deepening of the mixed layer from 40 to 120 m in approximately 8 h, with a corresponding decrease in SST in the right-rear quadrant of 3.2°C in 11 h, roughly one-third of an inertial period. Strong inertial currents with a peak amplitude of 1.5 m s−1 were observed. Vertical structure showed that the critical Richardson number was reached sporadically during the mixed-layer deepening event, suggesting shear-induced mixing as a prominent mechanism during storm passage. Peak significant waves of 11 m were observed from the floats to complement the aircraft-measured directional wave spectra.

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K. Ashin
,
M. S. Girishkumar
,
Jofia Joseph
,
Eric D’Asaro
,
N. Sureshkumar
,
V. R. Sherin
,
B. Murali
,
V. P. Thangaprakash
,
E. Pattabhi Ram Rao
, and
S. S. C. Shenoi

Abstract

Microstructure measurements from two cruises during winter and spring 2019 documented the importance of double-diffusion processes for small-scale mixing in the upper 400 m of the open-ocean region of the eastern Arabian Sea (EAS) below the mixed layer. The data indicated that shear-driven mixing rates are weak, contributing diapycnal diffusivity (Kρ ) of not more than 5.4 × 10−6 m2 s−1 in the EAS. Instead, signatures of double diffusion were strong, with the water column favorable for salt fingers in 70% of the region and favorable for diffusive convection in 2%–3% of the region. Well-defined thermohaline staircases were present in all the profiles in these regions that occupied 20% of the water column. Strong diffusive convection favorable regime occurred in ∼45% of data in the barrier layer region of the southern EAS (SEAS). Comparison of different parameterizations of double diffusion with the measurements of vertical heat diffusivity (KT ) found that the Radko and Smith salt fingering scheme and the Kelley diffusive convection scheme best match with the observations. The estimates based on flux law show that the combination of downward heat flux of approximately −3 W m−2 associated with salt fingering in the thermocline region of the EAS and the upward heat flux of ∼5 W m−2 due to diffusive convection in the barrier layer region of the SEAS cools the thermocline.

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Andrey Y. Shcherbina
,
Miles A. Sundermeyer
,
Eric Kunze
,
Eric D’Asaro
,
Gualtiero Badin
,
Daniel Birch
,
Anne-Marie E. G. Brunner-Suzuki
,
Jörn Callies
,
Brandy T. Kuebel Cervantes
,
Mariona Claret
,
Brian Concannon
,
Jeffrey Early
,
Raffaele Ferrari
,
Louis Goodman
,
Ramsey R. Harcourt
,
Jody M. Klymak
,
Craig M. Lee
,
M.-Pascale Lelong
,
Murray D. Levine
,
Ren-Chieh Lien
,
Amala Mahadevan
,
James C. McWilliams
,
M. Jeroen Molemaker
,
Sonaljit Mukherjee
,
Jonathan D. Nash
,
Tamay Özgökmen
,
Stephen D. Pierce
,
Sanjiv Ramachandran
,
Roger M. Samelson
,
Thomas B. Sanford
,
R. Kipp Shearman
,
Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
K. Shafer Smith
,
Amit Tandon
,
John R. Taylor
,
Eugene A. Terray
,
Leif N. Thomas
, and
James R. Ledwell

Abstract

Lateral stirring is a basic oceanographic phenomenon affecting the distribution of physical, chemical, and biological fields. Eddy stirring at scales on the order of 100 km (the mesoscale) is fairly well understood and explicitly represented in modern eddy-resolving numerical models of global ocean circulation. The same cannot be said for smaller-scale stirring processes. Here, the authors describe a major oceanographic field experiment aimed at observing and understanding the processes responsible for stirring at scales of 0.1–10 km. Stirring processes of varying intensity were studied in the Sargasso Sea eddy field approximately 250 km southeast of Cape Hatteras. Lateral variability of water-mass properties, the distribution of microscale turbulence, and the evolution of several patches of inert dye were studied with an array of shipboard, autonomous, and airborne instruments. Observations were made at two sites, characterized by weak and moderate background mesoscale straining, to contrast different regimes of lateral stirring. Analyses to date suggest that, in both cases, the lateral dispersion of natural and deliberately released tracers was O(1) m2 s–1 as found elsewhere, which is faster than might be expected from traditional shear dispersion by persistent mesoscale flow and linear internal waves. These findings point to the possible importance of kilometer-scale stirring by submesoscale eddies and nonlinear internal-wave processes or the need to modify the traditional shear-dispersion paradigm to include higher-order effects. A unique aspect of the Scalable Lateral Mixing and Coherent Turbulence (LatMix) field experiment is the combination of direct measurements of dye dispersion with the concurrent multiscale hydrographic and turbulence observations, enabling evaluation of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the observed dispersion at a new level.

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Ian M. Brooks
,
Margaret J. Yelland
,
Robert C. Upstill-Goddard
,
Philip D. Nightingale
,
Steve Archer
,
Eric d'Asaro
,
Rachael Beale
,
Cory Beatty
,
Byron Blomquist
,
A. Anthony Bloom
,
Barbara J. Brooks
,
John Cluderay
,
David Coles
,
John Dacey
,
Michael DeGrandpre
,
Jo Dixon
,
William M. Drennan
,
Joseph Gabriele
,
Laura Goldson
,
Nick Hardman-Mountford
,
Martin K. Hill
,
Matt Horn
,
Ping-Chang Hsueh
,
Barry Huebert
,
Gerrit de Leeuw
,
Timothy G. Leighton
,
Malcolm Liddicoat
,
Justin J. N. Lingard
,
Craig McNeil
,
James B. McQuaid
,
Ben I. Moat
,
Gerald Moore
,
Craig Neill
,
Sarah J. Norris
,
Simon O'Doherty
,
Robin W. Pascal
,
John Prytherch
,
Mike Rebozo
,
Erik Sahlee
,
Matt Salter
,
Ute Schuster
,
Ingunn Skjelvan
,
Hans Slagter
,
Michael H. Smith
,
Paul D. Smith
,
Meric Srokosz
,
John A. Stephens
,
Peter K. Taylor
,
Maciej Telszewski
,
Roisin Walsh
,
Brian Ward
,
David K. Woolf
,
Dickon Young
, and
Henk Zemmelink

As part of the U.K. contribution to the international Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study, a series of three related projects—DOGEE, SEASAW, and HiWASE—undertook experimental studies of the processes controlling the physical exchange of gases and sea spray aerosol at the sea surface. The studies share a common goal: to reduce the high degree of uncertainty in current parameterization schemes. The wide variety of measurements made during the studies, which incorporated tracer and surfactant release experiments, included direct eddy correlation fluxes, detailed wave spectra, wind history, photographic retrievals of whitecap fraction, aerosolsize spectra and composition, surfactant concentration, and bubble populations in the ocean mixed layer. Measurements were made during three cruises in the northeast Atlantic on the RRS Discovery during 2006 and 2007; a fourth campaign has been making continuous measurements on the Norwegian weather ship Polarfront since September 2006. This paper provides an overview of the three projects and some of the highlights of the measurement campaigns.

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