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  • Author or Editor: Todd D. Ringler x
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Phillip J. Wolfram
and
Todd D. Ringler

Abstract

Meridional diffusivity is assessed for a baroclinically unstable jet in a high-latitude idealized circumpolar current (ICC) using the Model for Prediction across Scales Ocean (MPAS-O) and the online Lagrangian in Situ Global High-Performance Particle Tracking (LIGHT) diagnostic via space–time dispersion of particle clusters over 120 monthly realizations of O(106) particles on 11 potential density surfaces. Diffusivity in the jet reaches values of O(6000) m2 s−1 and is largest near the critical layer supporting mixing suppression and critical layer theory. Values in the vicinity of the shelf break are suppressed to O(100) m2 s−1 because of the presence of westward slope front currents. Diffusivity attenuates less rapidly with depth in the jet than both eddy velocity and kinetic energy scalings would suggest. Removal of the mean flow via high-pass filtering shifts the nonlinear parameter (ratio of the eddy velocity to eddy phase speed) into the linear wave regime by increasing the eddy phase speed via the depth-mean flow. Low-pass filtering, in contrast, quantifies the effect of mean shear. Diffusivity is decomposed into mean flow shear, linear waves, and the residual nonhomogeneous turbulence components, where turbulence dominates and eddy-produced filamentation strained by background mean shear enhances mixing, accounting for ≥80% of the total diffusivity relative to mean shear [O(100) m2 s−1], linear waves [O(1000) m2 s−1], and undecomposed full diffusivity [O(6000) m2 s−1]. Diffusivity parameterizations accounting for both the nonhomogeneous turbulence residual and depth variability are needed.

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Phillip J. Wolfram
,
Todd D. Ringler
,
Mathew E. Maltrud
,
Douglas W. Jacobsen
, and
Mark R. Petersen

Abstract

Isopycnal diffusivity due to stirring by mesoscale eddies in an idealized, wind-forced, eddying, midlatitude ocean basin is computed using Lagrangian, in Situ, Global, High-Performance Particle Tracking (LIGHT). Simulation is performed via LIGHT within the Model for Prediction across Scales Ocean (MPAS-O). Simulations are performed at 4-, 8-, 16-, and 32-km resolution, where the first Rossby radius of deformation (RRD) is approximately 30 km. Scalar and tensor diffusivities are estimated at each resolution based on 30 ensemble members using particle cluster statistics. Each ensemble member is composed of 303 665 particles distributed across five potential density surfaces. Diffusivity dependence upon model resolution, velocity spatial scale, and buoyancy surface is quantified and compared with mixing length theory. The spatial structure of diffusivity ranges over approximately two orders of magnitude with values of O(105) m2 s−1 in the region of western boundary current separation to O(103) m2 s−1 in the eastern region of the basin. Dominant mixing occurs at scales twice the size of the first RRD. Model resolution at scales finer than the RRD is necessary to obtain sufficient model fidelity at scales between one and four RRD to accurately represent mixing. Mixing length scaling with eddy kinetic energy and the Lagrangian time scale yield mixing efficiencies that typically range between 0.4 and 0.8. A reduced mixing length in the eastern region of the domain relative to the west suggests there are different mixing regimes outside the baroclinic jet region.

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