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Joel Wesson, Kim David Saunders, Bruce Bricker, and Henry Perkins

Abstract

A fluorometer intended for ocean measurements of dye patches achieves small size, low power consumption, and high sensitivity. Its performance is reported using fluorescein sodium as the fluorescent agent, although the principle is applicable to any dye that fluoresces at a wavelength sufficiently different from the excitation wavelength. An implementation in the Naval Research Laboratory’s advanced microstructure profiler is described in detail, and results from static calibration and dynamic response tests are given.

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Hemantha W. Wijesekera, Joel C. Wesson, David W. Wang, William J. Teague, and Z. R. Hallock

Abstract

Turbulent mixing adjacent to the Velasco Reef and Kyushu–Palau Ridge, off northern Palau in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean, is examined using shipboard and moored observations. The study focuses on a 9-day-long, ship-based microstructure and velocity survey, conducted in November–December 2016. Several sections (9–15 km in length) of microstructure, hydrographic, and velocity fields were acquired over and around the reef, where water depths ranged from 50 to 3000 m. Microstructure profiles were collected while steaming slowly either toward or away from the reef, and underway current surveys were conducted along quasi-rectangular boxes with side lengths of 5–10 km. Near the reef, both tidal and subtidal motions were important, while subtidal motions were stronger away from the reef. Vertical shears of currents and mixing were stronger on the northern and eastern flanks of the reef than on the western flanks. High turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rates, 10−6–10−4 W kg−1, and large values of eddy diffusivities, 10−4–10−2 m2 s−1, with strong turbulent heat fluxes, 100–500 W m−2, were found. Currents flowing along the eastern side separated at the northern tip of the reef and generated submesoscale cyclonic vorticity of about 2–4 times the planetary vorticity. The analysis suggests that a torque, imparted by the turbulent bottom stress, generated the cyclonic vorticity at the northern boundary. The northern reef is associated with high vertical transports resulting from both submesoscale flow convergences and energetic mixing. Even though the area around Palau represents a small footprint of the ocean, vertical velocities and mixing rates are several orders magnitude larger than in the open ocean.

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Paul A. Hwang, Derek M. Burrage, David W. Wang, and Joel C. Wesson

Abstract

Ocean surface roughness plays an important role in air–sea interaction and ocean remote sensing. Its primary contribution is from surface waves much shorter than the energetic wave components near the peak of the wave energy spectrum. Field measurements of short-scale waves are scarce. In contrast, microwave remote sensing has produced a large volume of data useful for short-wave investigation. Particularly, Bragg resonance is the primary mechanism of radar backscatter from the ocean surface and the radar serves as a spectrometer of short surface waves. The roughness spectra inverted from radar backscatter measurements expand the short-wave database to high wind conditions in which in situ sensors do not function well. Using scatterometer geophysical model functions for L-, C-, and Ku-band microwave frequencies, the inverted roughness spectra, covering Bragg resonance wavelengths from 0.012 to 0.20 m, show a convergent trend in high winds. This convergent trend is incorporated in the surface roughness spectrum model to improve the applicable wind speed range for microwave scattering and emission computations.

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Derek M. Burrage, Joel C. Wesson, Mark A. Goodberlet, and Jerry L. Miller

Abstract

Airborne microwave radiometers for salinity remote sensing have advanced to a point where operational surveys can be conducted over the inner continental shelf to observe the evolution of freshwater plumes emanating from rivers and estuaries. To determine seawater microwave emissivity, and hence conductivity and salinity, precisely and accurately demands high instrument sensitivity, stability, and sampling rates; such requirements involve significant design trade-offs. The Salinity, Temperature, and Roughness Remote Scanner (STARRS) was developed to enhance these features relative to existing instruments. The authors describe here key elements of the STARRS design and the results of early performance assessments and deployments. During early deployments, the instrument performed well in areas of moderate to high salinity signal-to-noise ratio, but more homogenous areas revealed band-limited random signal fluctuations on the order of a 6-min period and ∼1-K amplitude that were of internal origin. Detailed analyses of laboratory and field tests revealed that internal “flicker,” or 1/f noise (having spectral roll-off proportional to the reciprocal of frequency f ), was the main source of these fluctuations. The instrument was modified to eliminate the random fluctuations and to further enhance sensitivity and stability. Laboratory tests and recent field deployments show that the upgrade improved instrument performance dramatically, to the extent that continental shelf scale areas with relatively homogenous salinity distributions can now be surveyed reliably using STARRS.

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