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  • Author or Editor: Caitlin B. Whalen x
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Caitlin B. Whalen
,
Jennifer A. MacKinnon
,
Lynne D. Talley
, and
Amy F. Waterhouse

Abstract

Finescale methods are currently being applied to estimate the mean turbulent dissipation rate and diffusivity on regional and global scales. This study evaluates finescale estimates derived from isopycnal strain by comparing them with average microstructure profiles from six diverse environments including the equator, above ridges, near seamounts, and in strong currents. The finescale strain estimates are derived from at least 10 nearby Argo profiles (generally <60 km distant) with no temporal restrictions, including measurements separated by seasons or decades. The absence of temporal limits is reasonable in these cases, since the authors find the dissipation rate is steady over seasonal time scales at the latitudes being considered (0°–30° and 40°–50°). In contrast, a seasonal cycle of a factor of 2–5 in the upper 1000 m is found under storm tracks (30°–40°) in both hemispheres. Agreement between the mean dissipation rate calculated using Argo profiles and mean from microstructure profiles is within a factor of 2–3 for 96% of the comparisons. This is both congruous with the physical scaling underlying the finescale parameterization and indicates that the method is effective for estimating the regional mean dissipation rates in the open ocean.

Full access
Eric Kunze
,
Ren-Chieh Lien
,
Caitlin B. Whalen
,
James B. Girton
,
Barry Ma
, and
Maarten C. Buijsman

Abstract

Six profiling floats measured water-mass properties (T, S), horizontal velocities (u, υ), and microstructure thermal-variance dissipation rates χT in the upper ∼1 km of the Iceland and Irminger Basins in the eastern subpolar North Atlantic from June 2019 to April 2021. The floats drifted into slope boundary currents to travel counterclockwise around the basins. Pairs of velocity profiles half an inertial period apart were collected every 7–14 days. These half-inertial-period pairs are separated into subinertial eddy (sum) and inertial/semidiurnal (difference) motions. Eddy flow speeds are ∼O(0.1) m s−1 in the upper 400 m, diminishing to ∼O(0.01) m s−1 by ∼800-m depth. In late summer through early spring, near-inertial motions are energized in the surface layer and permanent pycnocline to at least 800-m depth almost simultaneously (within the 14-day temporal resolution), suggesting rapid transformation of large-horizontal-scale surface-layer inertial oscillations into near-inertial internal waves with high vertical group velocities through interactions with eddy vorticity gradients (effective β). During the same period, internal-wave vertical shear variance was 2–5 times canonical midlatitude magnitudes and dominantly clockwise-with-depth (downward energy propagation). In late spring and early summer, shear levels are comparable to canonical midlatitude values and dominantly counterclockwise-with-depth (upward energy propagation), particularly over major topographic ridges. Turbulent diapycnal diffusivities KO(10−4) m2 s−1 are an order of magnitude larger than canonical midlatitude values. Depth-averaged (10–1000 m) diffusivities exhibit factor-of-3 month-by-month variability with minima in early August.

Open access
Ratnaksha Lele
,
Sarah G. Purkey
,
Jonathan D. Nash
,
Jennifer A. MacKinnon
,
Andreas M. Thurnherr
,
Caitlin B. Whalen
,
Sabine Mecking
,
Gunnar Voet
, and
Lynne D. Talley

Abstract

The abyssal southwest Pacific basin has warmed significantly between 1992 and 2017, consistent with warming along the bottom limb of the meridional overturning circulation seen throughout the global oceans. Here we present a framework for assessing the abyssal heat budget that includes the time-dependent unsteady effects of decadal warming and direct and indirect estimates of diapycnal mixing from microscale temperature measurements and finescale parameterizations. The unsteady terms estimated from the decadal warming rate are shown to be within a factor of 3 of the steady-state terms in the abyssal heat budget for the coldest portion of the water column and therefore cannot be ignored. We show that a reduction in the lateral heat flux for the coldest temperature classes compensated by an increase in warmer waters advected into the basin has important implications for the heat balance and diffusive heat fluxes in the basin. Vertical diffusive heat fluxes are estimated in different ways: using the newly available CTD-mounted microscale temperature measurements, a finescale strain parameterization, and a vertical kinetic energy parameterization from data along the P06 transect along 32.5°S. The unsteady-state abyssal heat budget for the basin shows closure within error estimates, demonstrating that (i) unsteady terms have become consequential for the heat balance in the isotherms closest to the ocean bottom and (ii) direct and indirect estimates from full-depth GO-SHIP hydrographic transects averaged over similarly large spatial and temporal scales can capture the basin-averaged abyssal mixing needed to close the deep overturning circulation.

Open access
Ian A. Stokes
,
Samuel M. Kelly
,
Andrew J. Lucas
,
Amy F. Waterhouse
,
Caitlin B. Whalen
,
Thilo Klenz
,
Verena Hormann
, and
Luca Centurioni

Abstract

We construct a generalized slab model to calculate the ocean’s linear response to an arbitrary, depth-variable forcing stress profile. To introduce a first-order improvement to the linear stress profile of the traditional slab model, a nonlinear stress profile, which allows momentum to penetrate into the transition layer (TL), is used [denoted mixed layer/transition layer (MLTL) stress profile]. The MLTL stress profile induces a twofold reduction in power input to inertial motions relative to the traditional slab approximation. The primary reduction arises as the TL allows momentum to be deposited over a greater depth range, reducing surface currents. The secondary reduction results from the production of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) beneath the mixed layer (ML) related to interactions between shear stress and velocity shear. Direct comparison between observations in the Iceland Basin, the traditional slab model, the generalized slab model with the MLTL stress profile, and the Price–Weller–Pinkel (PWP) model suggest that the generalized slab model offers improved performance over a traditional slab model. In the Iceland Basin, modeled TKE production in the TL is consistent with observations of turbulent dissipation. Extension to global results via analysis of Argo profiling float data suggests that on the global, annual mean, ∼30% of the total power input to near-inertial motions is allocated to TKE production. We apply this result to the latest global, annual-mean estimates for near-inertial power input (0.27 TW) to estimate that 0.08 ± 0.01 TW of the total near-inertial power input are diverted to TKE production.

Open access
Amy F. Waterhouse
,
Tyler Hennon
,
Eric Kunze
,
Jennifer A. MacKinnon
,
Matthew H. Alford
,
Robert Pinkel
,
Harper Simmons
,
Caitlin B. Whalen
,
Elizabeth C. Fine
,
Jody Klymak
, and
Julia M. Hummon

Abstract

Internal waves are predominantly generated by winds, tide–topography interactions, and balanced flow–topography interactions. Observations of vertical shear of horizontal velocity (uz , υz ) from lowered acoustic Doppler current profilers (LADCP) profiles conducted during GO-SHIP hydrographic surveys, as well as vessel-mounted sonars, are used to interpret these signals. Vertical directionality of intermediate-wavenumber [ λ z O ( 100 )  m ] internal waves is inferred in this study from rotary-with-depth shears. Total shear variance and vertical asymmetry ratio (Ω), i.e., the normalized difference between downward- and upward-propagating intermediate wavenumber shear variance, where Ω > 0 (<0) indicates excess downgoing (upgoing) shear variance, are calculated for three depth ranges: 200–600 m, 600 m–1000 mab (meters above bottom), and below 1000 mab. Globally, downgoing (clockwise-with-depth in the Northern Hemisphere) exceeds upgoing (counterclockwise-with-depth in the Northern Hemisphere) shear variance by 30% in the upper 600 m of the water column (corresponding to the globally averaged asymmetry ratio of Ω ¯ = 0.13 ), with a near-equal distribution below 600-m depth ( Ω ¯ 0 ). Downgoing shear variance in the upper water column dominates at all latitudes. There is no statistically significant correlation between the global distribution of Ω and internal wave generation, pointing to an important role for processes that redistribute energy within the internal wave continuum on wavelengths of O ( 100 )  m .

Open access
Maarten C. Buijsman
,
Joseph K. Ansong
,
Brian K. Arbic
,
James G. Richman
,
Jay F. Shriver
,
Patrick G. Timko
,
Alan J. Wallcraft
,
Caitlin B. Whalen
, and
ZhongXiang Zhao

Abstract

The effects of a parameterized linear internal wave drag on the semidiurnal barotropic and baroclinic energetics of a realistically forced, three-dimensional global ocean model are analyzed. Although the main purpose of the parameterization is to improve the surface tides, it also influences the internal tides. The relatively coarse resolution of the model of ~8 km only permits the generation and propagation of the first three vertical modes. Hence, this wave drag parameterization represents the energy conversion to and the subsequent breaking of the unresolved high modes. The total tidal energy input and the spatial distribution of the barotropic energy loss agree with the Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX)/Poseidon (TPXO) tidal inversion model. The wave drag overestimates the high-mode conversion at ocean ridges as measured against regional high-resolution models. The wave drag also damps the low-mode internal tides as they propagate away from their generation sites. Hence, it can be considered a scattering parameterization, causing more than 50% of the deep-water dissipation of the internal tides. In the near field, most of the baroclinic dissipation is attributed to viscous and numerical dissipation. The far-field decay of the simulated internal tides is in agreement with satellite altimetry and falls within the broad range of Argo-inferred dissipation rates. In the simulation, about 12% of the semidiurnal internal tide energy generated in deep water reaches the continental margins.

Full access
Amy F. Waterhouse
,
Jennifer A. MacKinnon
,
Jonathan D. Nash
,
Matthew H. Alford
,
Eric Kunze
,
Harper L. Simmons
,
Kurt L. Polzin
,
Louis C. St. Laurent
,
Oliver M. Sun
,
Robert Pinkel
,
Lynne D. Talley
,
Caitlin B. Whalen
,
Tycho N. Huussen
,
Glenn S. Carter
,
Ilker Fer
,
Stephanie Waterman
,
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato
,
Thomas B. Sanford
, and
Craig M. Lee

Abstract

The authors present inferences of diapycnal diffusivity from a compilation of over 5200 microstructure profiles. As microstructure observations are sparse, these are supplemented with indirect measurements of mixing obtained from (i) Thorpe-scale overturns from moored profilers, a finescale parameterization applied to (ii) shipboard observations of upper-ocean shear, (iii) strain as measured by profiling floats, and (iv) shear and strain from full-depth lowered acoustic Doppler current profilers (LADCP) and CTD profiles. Vertical profiles of the turbulent dissipation rate are bottom enhanced over rough topography and abrupt, isolated ridges. The geography of depth-integrated dissipation rate shows spatial variability related to internal wave generation, suggesting one direct energy pathway to turbulence. The global-averaged diapycnal diffusivity below 1000-m depth is O(10−4) m2 s−1 and above 1000-m depth is O(10−5) m2 s−1. The compiled microstructure observations sample a wide range of internal wave power inputs and topographic roughness, providing a dataset with which to estimate a representative global-averaged dissipation rate and diffusivity. However, there is strong regional variability in the ratio between local internal wave generation and local dissipation. In some regions, the depth-integrated dissipation rate is comparable to the estimated power input into the local internal wave field. In a few cases, more internal wave power is dissipated than locally generated, suggesting remote internal wave sources. However, at most locations the total power lost through turbulent dissipation is less than the input into the local internal wave field. This suggests dissipation elsewhere, such as continental margins.

Full access