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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

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, 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, 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 (≳8ms−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 10:00 and 16:00 local time (from 4 h after sunrise to 2 h before sunset). Despite Ri being well below the Ri = 1/4 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 < 1/4. This changes around 16:00–17:00. 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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