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W. J. Teague, Z. R. Hallock, and G. A. Jacobs

Abstract

An estimate of the geoid across the Kuroshio Extension at its separation point from Japan is calculated through an analysis of coincident sea surface measurements from inverted echo sounders (IESs) and Topex/Poseidon (T/P). The IESs were positioned along a T/P descending ground track in the vicinity of 35°N, 143°E. This geoid section can be used in conjunction with altimeter data to estimate total sea surface height. Thus, Kuroshio position, surface geostrophic velocity, and transport along the section can be continuously monitored.

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Z. R. Hallock, W. J. Teague, and E. Jarosz

Abstract

Current velocity from moored arrays of acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) deployed on the outer shelf and slope, south of Mobile Bay in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, shows evidence of alongslope, generally westward-propagating subinertial baroclinic Kelvin waves with periods of about 16 and 21 days, amplitudes of 5–10 cm s−1, and wavelengths of about 500 km. The observed waves were highly coherent over the slope between about 200 and 500 m and accounted for a significant amount of the current variability below 200 m. The source of the waves could be attributed to effects of the Loop Current on the west Florida slope but is more likely due to direct forcing by Loop Current–generated eddies impacting the experimental area.

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D. W. Wang, H. W. Wijesekera, E. Jarosz, W. J. Teague, and W. S. Pegau

Abstract

Breaking surface waves generate layers of bubble clouds as air parcels entrain into the upper ocean through the action of turbulent motions. The turbulent diffusivity in the bubble cloud layer is investigated by combining measurements of surface winds, waves, bubble acoustic backscatter, currents, and hydrography. These measurements were made at water depths of 60–90 m on the shelf of the Gulf of Alaska near Kayak Island during late December 2012, a period when the ocean was experiencing winds and significant wave heights up to 22 m s−1 and 9 m, respectively. Vertical profiles of acoustic backscatter decayed exponentially from the wave surface with e-folding lengths of about 0.6 to 6 m, while the bubble penetration depths were about 3 to 30 m. Both e-folding lengths and bubble depths were highly correlated with surface wind and wave conditions. The turbulent diffusion coefficients, inferred from e-folding length and bubble depth, varied from about 0.01 to 0.4 m2 s−1. Analysis suggests that the turbulent diffusivity in the bubble layer can be parameterized as a function of the cube of the wind friction velocity with a proportionality coefficient that depends weakly on wave age. Furthermore, in the bubble layer, on average, the shear production of the turbulent kinetic energy estimated by the diffusion coefficients is a similar order of magnitude as the dissipation rate predicted by the wall boundary layer theory.

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W. J. Teague, H. W. Wijesekera, W. E. Avera, and Z. R. Hallock

Abstract

Closely spaced observations of nonlinear internal waves (NLIWs) were made on the outer continental shelf off New Jersey in June 2009. Nearly full water column measurements of current velocity were made with four acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) that were moored about 5 km apart on the bottom along a line approximately normal to the bathymetry between water depths of 67 and 92 m. Density profiles were obtained from two vertical strings of temperature and conductivity sensors that were deployed near each of the interior ADCP moorings. In addition, a towed ScanFish provided profiles and fixed-level records of temperature and salinity through several NLIW packets near the moorings. Several case studies were selected to describe the propagation of the NLIWs. One to three solitary waves of depression were observed in five selected packets. There were also occurrences of multiple-phase dispersive wave packets. The average propagation speed corrected for advection of the observed waves was 0.51 ± 0.09 m s−1. The waves were directed primarily shoreward (~northwestward) along the mooring line with average wavelengths and periods of about 300 m and 10 min, respectively. Wave amplitudes and energies decreased with decreasing water depth. The observed wave parameters can be locally described by a two-layer Korteweg–de Vries (KdV) model, except for the decreasing amplitudes, which may be due to shear-induced dissipation and/or bottom drag. The various complementary observations utilized in this study present a unique description of NLIWs.

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H. W. Wijesekera, D. W. Wang, W. J. Teague, E. Jarosz, W. E. Rogers, D. B. Fribance, and J. N. Moum

Abstract

Several acoustic Doppler current profilers and vertical strings of temperature, conductivity, and pressure sensors, deployed on and around the East Flower Garden Bank (EFGB), were used to examine surface wave effects on high-frequency flows over the bank and to quantify spatial and temporal characteristic of these high-frequency flows. The EFGB, about 5-km wide and 10-km long, is located about 180-km southeast of Galveston, Texas, and consists of steep slopes on southern and eastern sides that rise from water depths over 100 m to within 20 m of the surface. Three-dimensional flows with frequencies ranging from 0.2 to 2 cycles per hour (cph) were observed in the mixed layer when wind speed and Stokes drift at the surface were large. These motions were stronger over the bank than outside the perimeter. The squared vertical velocity w 2 was strongest near the surface and decayed exponentially with depth, and the e-folding length of w 2 was 2 times larger than that of Stokes drift. The 2-h-averaged w 2 in the mixed layer, scaled by the squared friction velocity, was largest when the turbulent Langmuir number was less than unity and the mixed layer was shallow. It is suggested that Langmuir circulation is responsible for the generation of vertical flows in the mixed layer, and that the increase in kinetic energy is due to an enhancement of Stokes drift by wave focusing. The lack of agreement with open-ocean Langmuir scaling arguments is likely due to the enhanced kinetic energy by wave focusing.

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H. W. Wijesekera, D. W. Wang, E. Jarosz, W. J. Teague, W. S. Pegau, and J. N. Moum

Abstract

Momentum transport by energy-containing turbulent eddies in the oceanic mixed layer were investigated during high-wind events in the northern Gulf of Alaska off Kayak Island. Sixteen high-wind events with magnitudes ranging from 7 to 22 m s−1 were examined. Winds from the southeast prevailed from one to several days with significant wave heights of 5–9 m and turbulent Langmuir numbers of about 0.2–0.4. Surface buoyancy forcing was much weaker than the wind stress forcing. The water column was well mixed to the bottom depth of about 73 m. Spectral analyses indicate that a major part of the turbulent momentum flux was concentrated on 10–30-min time scales. The ratio of horizontal scale to mixed layer depth was from 2 to 8. Turbulent shear stresses in the mixed layer were horizontally asymmetric. The downwind turbulent stress at 10–20 m below the surface was approximately 40% of the averaged wind stress and was reduced to 5%–10% of the wind stress near the bottom. Turbulent kinetic energy in the crosswind direction was 30% larger than in the downwind direction and an order of magnitude larger than the vertical component. The averaged eddy viscosity between 10- and 30-m depth was ~0.1 m2 s−1, decreased with depth rapidly below 50 m, and was ~5 × 10−3 m2 s−1 at 5 m above the bottom. The divergence of turbulent shear stress accelerated the flow during the early stages of wind events before Coriolis and pressure gradient forces became important.

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H. W. Wijesekera, E. Jarosz, W. J. Teague, D. W. Wang, D. B. Fribance, J. N. Moum, and S. J. Warner

Abstract

Pressure differences across topography generate a form drag that opposes the flow in the water column, and viscous and pressure forces acting on roughness elements of the topographic surface generate a frictional drag on the bottom. Form drag and bottom roughness lengths were estimated over the East Flower Garden Bank (EFGB) in the Gulf of Mexico by combining an array of bottom pressure measurements and profiles of velocity and turbulent kinetic dissipation rates. The EFGB is a coral bank about 6 km wide and 10 km long located at the shelf edge that rises from 100-m water depth to about 18 m below the sea surface. The average frictional drag coefficient over the entire bank was estimated as 0.006 using roughness lengths that ranged from 0.001 cm for relatively smooth portions of the bank to 1–10 cm for very rough portions over the corals. The measured form drag over the bank showed multiple time-scale variability. Diurnal tides and low-frequency motions with periods ranging from 4 to 17 days generated form drags of about 2000 N m−1 with average drag coefficients ranging between 0.03 and 0.22, which are a factor of 5–35 times larger than the average frictional drag coefficient. Both linear wave and quadratic drag laws have similarities with the observed form drag. The form drag is an important flow retardation mechanism even in the presence of the large frictional drag associated with coral reefs and requires parameterization.

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W. J. Teague, E. Jarosz, D. W. Wang, and D. A. Mitchell

Abstract

Hurricane Ivan passed directly over an array of 14 acoustic Doppler current profilers deployed along the outer continental shelf and upper slope in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Currents in excess of 200 cm s−1 were generated during this hurricane. Shelf currents followed Ekman dynamics with overlapping surface and bottom layers during Ivan’s approach and transitioned to a dominant surface boundary layer as the wind stress peaked. Slope currents at the onset of Ivan were wind driven near the surface, but deeper in the water column they were dominated during and after the passage of Ivan by subinertial waves with a period of 2–5 days that had several characteristics of topographic Rossby waves. Currents on the slope at 50 m and greater depths commonly exceeded 50 cm s−1. Surprisingly, the strongest currents were present to the left of the storm track on the shelf while more energetic currents were to the right of the hurricane path on the slope during the forced stage. Near-inertial motion lasting for a time period of about 10 days was excited by the storm on the shelf and slope. Record wave heights were measured near the eyewall of Hurricane Ivan and were shown not to be rogue waves. The large surface waves and strong near-bottom currents caused significant bottom scour on the outer shelf at water depths as deep as 90 m.

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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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G. R. Halliwell Jr., L. K. Shay, J. K. Brewster, and W. J. Teague

Abstract

An ocean model response to Hurricane Ivan (2004) over the northwest Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico is evaluated to guide strategies for improving performance during strong forcing events in a region with energetic ocean features with the ultimate goal of improving coupled tropical cyclone forecasts. Based on prior experience, a control experiment is performed using quasi-optimal choices of initial ocean fields, atmospheric forcing fields, air–sea flux parameterizations, vertical mixing parameterizations, and both horizontal and vertical resolutions. Alternate experiments are conducted by altering one single model attribute and comparing the results to SST analyses and moored ADCP current measurements to quantify the sensitivity to that attribute and identify where to concentrate model improvement efforts. Atmospheric forcing that does not resolve the eye and eyewall of the storm (scales >10 km) substantially degrades the ocean response. Ordering other model attributes from greatest to least sensitivity, ocean model initialization with regard to the accuracy of upper-ocean temperature–salinity profiles along with accurate location of ocean currents and eddies is the most important factor for ensuring good ocean model performance. Ocean dynamics ranks second in this energetic ocean region because a one-dimensional ocean model fails to capture important physical processes that affect SST cooling. Wind stress drag coefficient parameterizations that yield values exceeding 2.5 × 10−3 at high wind speeds or that remain <2.0 × 10−3 over all wind speeds reduce the realism of wind-driven current profiles and have a large impact on both SST cooling and the heat flux from ocean to atmosphere. Turbulent heat flux drag coefficient parameterizations substantially impact the surface heat flux while having little impact on SST cooling, which is primarily controlled by entrainment at the mixed layer base. Vertical mixing parameterizations have a moderate impact on SST cooling but a comparatively larger impact on surface heat flux. The impacts of altering the horizontal and vertical resolutions are small, with horizontal resolution of ≈10 km and vertical resolution of ≈10 m in the mixed layer being adequate. Optimal choices of all attributes for simulating the ocean response to Ivan are identified.

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