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Virginie Thierry and Yves Morel

Abstract

The authors investigate the influence of steep bottom topography on the propagation of a vortex in a two-layer quasigeostrophic model. The vortex is intensified in the upper layer and the planetary beta effect is taken into account.

The authors find that steep topography can scatter disturbances created by the upper-layer vortex displacement and maintain the lower-layer motion weak. It is thus shown that, when the vortex radius is smaller than a critical value, the vortex behaves as if the lower layer was at rest (or infinitely deep as in a reduced gravity model). If the radius is increased while holding the maximum vorticity of the vortex, the topographic Rossby waves—generated during the scattering process—have a stronger signature in the upper layer, and the vortex evolution begins to change in comparison with the reduced-gravity case. However, numerical experiments show that both the steep topography and reduced-gravity trajectories remain close up to a large radius, after which a vortex above a strong slope becomes unstable and is dispersed by topographic Rossby waves.

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Clément Vic, Bruno Ferron, Virginie Thierry, Herlé Mercier, and Pascale Lherminier

Abstract

Internal waves in the semidiurnal and near-inertial bands are investigated using an array of seven moorings located over the Reykjanes Ridge in a cross-ridge direction (57.6°–59.1°N, 28.5°–33.3°W). Continuous measurements of horizontal velocity and temperature for more than 2 years allow us to estimate the kinetic energy density and the energy fluxes of the waves. We found that there is a remarkable phase locking and linear relationship between the semidiurnal energy density and the tidal energy conversion at the spring–neap cycle. The energy-to-conversion ratio gives replenishment time scales of 4–5 days on the ridge top versus 7–9 days on the flanks. Altogether, these results demonstrate that the bulk of the tidal energy on the ridge comes from near-local sources, with a redistribution of energy from the top to the flanks, which is endorsed by the energy fluxes oriented in the cross-ridge direction. Implications for tidally driven energy dissipation are discussed. The time-averaged near-inertial kinetic energy is smaller than the semidiurnal kinetic energy by a factor of 2–3 but is much more variable in time. It features a strong seasonal cycle with a winter intensification and subseasonal peaks associated with local wind bursts. The ratio of energy to wind work gives replenishment time scales of 13–15 days, which is consistent with the short time scales of observed variability of near-inertial energy. In the upper ocean (1 km), the highest levels of near-inertial energy are preferentially found in anticyclonic structures, with a twofold increase relative to cyclonic structures, illustrating the funneling effect of anticyclones.

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Esther Portela, Nicolas Kolodziejczyk, Christophe Maes, and Virginie Thierry

Abstract

Using an Argo dataset and the ECCOv4 reanalysis, a volume budget was performed to address the main mechanisms driving the volume change of the interior water masses in the Southern Hemisphere oceans between 2006 and 2015. The subduction rates and the isopycnal and diapycnal water-mass transformation were estimated in a density–spiciness (στ) framework. Spiciness, defined as thermohaline variations along isopycnals, was added to the potential density coordinates to discriminate between water masses spreading on isopycnal layers. The main positive volume trends were found to be associated with the Subantarctic Mode Waters (SAMW) in the South Pacific and South Indian Ocean basins, revealing a lightening of the upper waters in the Southern Hemisphere. The SAMW exhibits a two-layer density structure in which subduction and diapycnal transformation from the lower to the upper layers accounted for most of the upper-layer volume gain and lower-layer volume loss, respectively. The Antarctic Intermediate Waters, defined here between the 27.2 and 27.5 kg m−3 isopycnals, showed the strongest negative volume trends. This volume loss can be explained by their negative isopyncal transformation southward of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current into the fresher and colder Antarctic Winter Waters (AAWW) and northward into spicier tropical/subtropical Intermediate Waters. The AAWW is destroyed by obduction back into the mixed layer so that its net volume change remains nearly zero. The proposed mechanisms to explain the transformation within the Intermediate Waters are discussed in the context of Southern Ocean dynamics. The στ decomposition provided new insight on the spatial and temporal water-mass variability and driving mechanisms over the last decade.

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Bruno Ferron, Florian Kokoszka, Herlé Mercier, Pascale Lherminier, Thierry Huck, Aida Rios, and Virginie Thierry

Abstract

The variability of the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation due to internal waves is quantified using a finescale parameterization applied to the A25 Greenland–Portugal transect repeated every two years from 2002 to 2012. The internal wave velocity shear and strain are estimated for each cruise at 91 stations from full depth vertical profiles of density and velocity. The 2002–12 averaged dissipation rate 〈ε 2002–2012〉 in the upper ocean lays in the range 1–10 × 10−10 W kg−1. At depth, 〈ε 2002–2012〉 is smaller than 1 × 10−10 W kg−1 except over rough topography found at the continental slopes, the Reykjanes Ridge, and in a region delimited by the Azores–Biscay Rise and Eriador Seamount. There, the vertical energy flux of internal waves is preferentially oriented toward the surface and 〈ε 2002–2012〉 is in the range 1–20 × 10−10 W kg−1. The interannual variability in the dissipation rates is remarkably small over the whole transect. A few strong dissipation rate events exceeding the uncertainty of the finescale parameterization occur at depth between the Azores–Biscay Rise and Eriador Seamount. This region is also marked by mesoscale eddying flows resulting in enhanced surface energy level and enhanced bottom velocities. Estimates of the vertical energy fluxes into the internal tide and into topographic internal waves suggest that the latter are responsible for the strong dissipation events. At Eriador Seamount, both topographic internal waves and the internal tide contribute with the same order of magnitude to the dissipation rate while around the Reykjanes Ridge the internal tide provides the bulk of the dissipation rate.

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