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Kenneth G. Hughes
and
Jody M. Klymak

Abstract

In high-latitude fjords and channels in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, walls support radiating internal tides as Kelvin waves. Such waves allow for significant barotropic to baroclinic tidal energy conversion, which is otherwise small or negligible when poleward of the critical latitude. This fundamentally three-dimensional system of a subinertial channel is investigated with a suite of numerical simulations in rectangular channels of varying width featuring idealized, isolated ridges. Even in channels as wide as 5 times the internal Rossby radius, tidal conversion can remain as high as predicted by an equivalent two-dimensional, nonrotating system. Curves of tidal conversion as a function of channel width, however, do not vary monotonically. Instead, they display peaks and nulls owing to interference between the Kelvin waves along the wall and similar waves that propagate along the ridge flanks, the wavelengths of which can be estimated from linear theory to guide prediction. Because the wavelengths are comparable to width scales of Arctic channels and fjords, the interference will play a first-order role in tidal energy budgets and may consequently influence the stability of glaciers, the ventilation of deep layers, the locations of sediment deposition, and the fate of freshwater exiting the Arctic Ocean.

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Kenneth G. Hughes
,
James N. Moum
, and
Emily L. Shroyer

Abstract

Penetration of solar radiation in the upper few meters of the ocean creates a near-surface, stratified diurnal warm layer. Wind stress accelerates a diurnal jet in this layer. Turbulence generated at the diurnal thermocline, where the shear of the diurnal jet is concentrated, redistributes heat downward via mixing. New measurements of temperature and turbulence from fast thermistors on a surface-following platform depict the details of this sequence in both time and depth. Temporally, the sequence at a fixed depth follows a counterclockwise path in logϵ–logN parameter space. This path also captures the evolution of buoyancy Reynolds number (a proxy for the anisotropy of the turbulence) and Ozmidov scale (a proxy for the outer vertical length scale of turbulence in the absence of the free surface). Vertically, the solar heat flux always leads to heating of fluid parcels in the upper few meters, whereas the turbulent heat flux divergence changes sign across the depth of maximum vertical temperature gradient, cooling fluid parcels above and heating fluid parcels below. In general, our measurements of fluid parcel heating or cooling rates of order 0.1°C h−1 are consistent with our estimates of heat flux divergence. In weak winds (<2 m s−1), sea surface temperature (SST) is controlled by the depth-dependent absorption of solar radiation. In stronger winds, turbulent mixing controls SST.

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Kenneth G. Hughes
,
James N. Moum
, and
Emily L. Shroyer

Abstract

The daily formation of near-surface ocean stratification caused by penetrating solar radiation modifies heat fluxes through the air–sea interface, turbulence dissipation in the mixed layer, and the vertical profile of lateral transport. The transport is altered because momentum from wind is trapped in a thin near-surface layer, the diurnal warm layer. We investigate the dynamics of this layer, with particular attention to the vertical shear of horizontal velocity. We first develop a quantitative link between the near-surface shear components that relates the crosswind component to the inertial turning of the along-wind component. Three days of high-resolution velocity observations confirm this relation. Clear colocation of shear and stratification with Richardson numbers near 0.25 indicate marginal instability. Idealized numerical modeling is then invoked to extrapolate below the observed wind speeds. This modeling, together with a simple energetic scaling analysis, provides a rule of thumb that the diurnal shear evolves differently above and below a 2 m s−1 wind speed, with limited sensitivity of this threshold to latitude and mean net surface heat flux. Only above this wind speed is the energy input sufficient to overcome the stabilizing buoyancy flux and thereby induce marginal instability. The differing shear regimes explain differences in the timing and magnitude of diurnal sea surface temperature anomalies.

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Kenneth G. Hughes
,
James N. Moum
,
Emily L. Shroyer
, and
William D. Smyth

Abstract

In low winds ( 2 m s−1), diurnal warm layers form, but shear in the near-surface jet is too weak to generate shear instability and mixing. In high winds ( 8 m s−1), surface heat is rapidly mixed downward and diurnal warm layers do not form. Under moderate winds of 3–5 m s−1, the jet persists for several hours in a state that is susceptible to shear instability. We observe low Richardson numbers of Ri ≈ 0.1 in the top 2 m between 1000 and 1600 local time (LT) (from 4 h after sunrise to 2 h before sunset). Despite Ri being well below the Ri = ¼ threshold, instabilities do not grow quickly, nor do they overturn. The stabilizing influence of the sea surface limits growth, a result demonstrated by both linear stability analysis and two-dimensional simulations initialized from observed profiles. In some cases, growth rates are sufficiently small (≪1 h−1) that mixing is not expected even though Ri < ¼. This changes around 1600–1700 LT. Thereafter, convective cooling causes the region of unstable flow to move downward, away from the surface. This allows shear instabilities to grow an order-of-magnitude faster and mix effectively. We corroborate the overall observed diurnal cycle of instability with a freely evolving, two-dimensional simulation that is initialized from rest before sunrise.

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James N. Moum
,
William D. Smyth
,
Kenneth G. Hughes
,
Deepak Cherian
,
Sally J. Warner
,
Bernard Bourlès
,
Peter Brandt
, and
Marcus Dengler

Abstract

Several years of moored turbulence measurements from χpods at three sites in the equatorial cold tongues of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans yield new insights into proxy estimates of turbulence that specifically target the cold tongues. They also reveal previously unknown wind dependencies of diurnally varying turbulence in the near-critical stratified shear layers beneath the mixed layer and above the core of the Equatorial Undercurrent that we have come to understand as deep cycle (DC) turbulence. Isolated by the mixed layer above, the DC layer is only indirectly linked to surface forcing. Yet, it varies diurnally in concert with daily changes in heating/cooling. Diurnal composites computed from 10-min averaged data at fixed χpod depths show that transitions from daytime to nighttime mixing regimes are increasingly delayed with weakening wind stress τ. These transitions are also delayed with respect to depth such that they follow a descent rate of roughly 6 m h−1, independent of τ. We hypothesize that this wind-dependent delay is a direct result of wind-dependent diurnal warm layer deepening, which acts as the trigger to DC layer instability by bringing shear from the surface downward but at rates much slower than 6 m h−1. This delay in initiation of DC layer instability contributes to a reduction in daily averaged values of turbulence dissipation. Both the absence of descending turbulence in the sheared DC layer prior to arrival of the diurnal warm layer shear and the magnitude of the subsequent descent rate after arrival are roughly predicted by laboratory experiments on entrainment in stratified shear flows.

Significance Statement

Only recently have long time series measurements of ocean turbulence been available anywhere. Important sites for these measurements are the equatorial cold tongues where the nature of upper-ocean turbulence differs from that in most of the world’s oceans and where heat uptake from the atmosphere is concentrated. Critical to heat transported downward from the mixed layer is the diurnally varying deep cycle of turbulence below the mixed layer and above the core of the Equatorial Undercurrent. Even though this layer does not directly contact the surface, here we show the influence of the surface winds on both the magnitude of the deep cycle turbulence and the timing of its descent into the depths below.

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James N. Moum
,
Daniel L. Rudnick
,
Emily L. Shroyer
,
Kenneth G. Hughes
,
Benjamin D. Reineman
,
Kyle Grindley
,
Jeffrey T. Sherman
,
Pavan Vutukur
,
Craig Van Appledorn
,
Kerry Latham
,
Aurélie J. Moulin
, and
T. M. Shaun Johnston

Abstract

A new autonomous turbulence profiling float has been designed, built, and tested in field trials off Oregon. Flippin’ χSOLO (FχS) employs a SOLO-II buoyancy engine that not only changes but also shifts ballast to move the center of mass to positions on either side of the center of buoyancy, thus causing FχS to flip. FχS is outfitted with a full suite of turbulence sensors—two shear probes, two fast thermistors, and pitot tube, as well as a pressure sensor and three-axis linear accelerometers. FχS descends and ascends with turbulence sensors leading, thereby permitting measurement through the sea surface. The turbulence sensors are housed antipodal from communication antennas so as to eliminate flow disturbance. By flipping at the sea surface, antennas are exposed for communications. The mission of FχS is to provide intensive profiling measurements of the upper ocean from 240 m and through the sea surface, particularly during periods of extreme surface forcing. While surfaced, accelerometers provide estimates of wave height spectra and significant wave height. From 3.5 day field trials, here we evaluate (i) the statistics from two FχS units and our established shipboard profiler, Chameleon, and (ii) FχS-based wave statistics by comparison to a nearby NOAA wave buoy.

Significance Statement

The oceanographic fleet of Argo autonomous profilers yields important data that define the state of the ocean’s interior. Continued deployments over time define the evolution of the ocean’s interior. A significant next step will be to include turbulence measurements on these profilers, leading to estimates of thermodynamic mixing rates that predict future states of the ocean’s interior. An autonomous turbulence profiler that employs the buoyancy engine, mission logic, and remote communication of one particular Argo float is described herein. The Flippin’ χSOLO is an upper-ocean profiler tasked with rapid and continuous profiling of the upper ocean during weather conditions that preclude shipboard profiling and that includes the upper 10 m that is missed by shipboard turbulence profilers.

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