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Jody M. Klymak, Dhruv Balwada, Alberto Naveira Garabato, and Ryan Abernathey


Slowly-evolving stratified flow over rough topography is subject to substantial drag due to internal motions, but often numerical simulations are carried out at resolutions where this “wave” drag must be parameterized. Here we highlight the importance of internal drag from topography with scales that cannot radiate internal waves, but may be highly non-linear, and we propose a simple parameterization of this drag that has a minimum of fit parameters compared to existing schemes. The parameterization smoothly transitions from a quadratic drag law (~hu02) for low-Nh/u0 (linear wave dynamics) to a linear drag law (~h2u0N) for high-Nh/u0 flows (non-linear blocking and hydraulic dynamics), where N is the stratification, h is the height of the topography, and u 0 is the near-bottom velocity; the parameterization does not have a dependence on Coriolis frequency. Simulations carried out in a channel with synthetic bathymetry and steady body forcing indicate that this parameterization accurately predicts drag across a broad range of forcing parameters when the effect of reduced near-bottom mixing is taken into account by reducing the effective height of the topography. The parameterization is also tested in simulations of wind-driven channel flows that generate mesoscale eddy fields, a setup where the downstream transport is sensitive to the bottom drag parameterization and its effect on the eddies. In these simulations, the parameterization replicates the effect of rough bathymetry on the eddies. If extrapolated globally, the sub-inertial topographic scales can account for 2.7 TW of work done on the low-frequency circulation, an important sink that is redistributed to mixing in the open ocean.

Open access
Dhruv Balwada, Joseph H. LaCasce, Kevin G. Speer, and Raffaele Ferrari


Stirring in the subsurface Southern Ocean is examined using RAFOS float trajectories, collected during the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES), along with particle trajectories from a regional eddy permitting model. A central question is the extent to which the stirring is local, by eddies comparable in size to the pair separation, or nonlocal, by eddies at larger scales. To test this, we examine metrics based on averaging in time and in space. The model particles exhibit nonlocal dispersion, as expected for a limited resolution numerical model that does not resolve flows at scales smaller than ~10 days or ~20–30 km. The different metrics are less consistent for the RAFOS floats; relative dispersion, kurtosis, and relative diffusivity suggest nonlocal dispersion as they are consistent with the model within error, while finite-size Lyapunov exponents (FSLE) suggests local dispersion. This occurs for two reasons: (i) limited sampling of the inertial length scales and a relatively small number of pairs hinder statistical robustness in time-based metrics, and (ii) some space-based metrics (FSLE, second-order structure functions), which do not average over wave motions and are reflective of the kinetic energy distribution, are probably unsuitable to infer dispersion characteristics if the flow field includes energetic wave motions that do not disperse particles. The relative diffusivity, which is also a space-based metric, allows averaging over waves to infer the dispersion characteristics. Hence, given the error characteristics of the metrics and data used here, the stirring in the DIMES region is likely to be nonlocal at scales of 5–100 km.

Open access
Dhruv Balwada, Kevin G. Speer, Joseph H. LaCasce, W. Brechner Owens, John Marshall, and Raffaele Ferrari


The large-scale middepth circulation and eddy diffusivities in the southeast Pacific Ocean and Scotia Sea sectors between 110° and 45°W of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) are described based on a subsurface quasi-isobaric RAFOS-float-based Lagrangian dataset. These RAFOS float data were collected during the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES). The mean flow, adjusted to a common 1400-m depth, shows the presence of jets in the time-averaged sense with speeds of 6 cm s−1 in the southeast Pacific Ocean and upward of 13 cm s−1 in the Scotia Sea. These jets appear to be locked to topography in the Scotia Sea but, aside from negotiating a seamount chain, are mostly free of local topographic constraints in the southeast Pacific Ocean. The eddy kinetic energy (EKE) is higher than the mean kinetic energy everywhere in the sampled domain by about 50%. The magnitude of the EKE increases drastically (by a factor of 2 or more) as the current crosses over the Hero and Shackleton fracture zones into the Scotia Sea. The meridional isopycnal stirring shows lateral and vertical variations with local eddy diffusivities as high as 2800 ± 600 m2 s−1 at 700 m decreasing to 990 ± 200 m2 s−1 at 1800 m in the southeast Pacific Ocean. However, the cross-ACC diffusivity in the southeast Pacific Ocean is significantly lower, with values of 690 ± 150 and 1000 ± 200 m2 s−1 at shallow and deep levels, respectively, due to the action of jets. The cross-ACC diffusivity in the Scotia Sea is about 1200 ± 500 m2 s−1.

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