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Observations of Temperature Microstructure in NATRE

Jeffrey T. ShermanScripps institution of Oceanography, La Joila, California

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Russ E. DavisScripps institution of Oceanography, La Joila, California

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Abstract

A new autonomous instrument collected 76 profiles of temperature microstructure over a ten-day period in the eastern subtropical North Atlantic as part of the North Atlantic Tracer Release Experiment. The data between 200-m and 350-m depth was used to determine the mean rate of temperature variance dissipation 〈χ〉. The estimated diapycnal diffusivity is Ky = 1.4×10−5 m2 s−1. The distribution of χ is approximately lognormal, suggesting that the 95% confidence limits on 〈χ〉 are ±4%. This uncertainty is less than that caused by the imperfectly known probe response, possible noise spikes on the probes, and variability in the degree of microstructure anisotropy; the latter two effects were estimated from a pair of closely spaced probes. Each of these uncertainties is about ±15%. Statistically significant low-frequency variability of χ is observed with 〈χ〉 decreasing by a factor of 2 between the first and second half of the observation. This low-frequency variability is likely the largest cause of error in estimating a seasonally averaged diapycnal diffusivity.

Abstract

A new autonomous instrument collected 76 profiles of temperature microstructure over a ten-day period in the eastern subtropical North Atlantic as part of the North Atlantic Tracer Release Experiment. The data between 200-m and 350-m depth was used to determine the mean rate of temperature variance dissipation 〈χ〉. The estimated diapycnal diffusivity is Ky = 1.4×10−5 m2 s−1. The distribution of χ is approximately lognormal, suggesting that the 95% confidence limits on 〈χ〉 are ±4%. This uncertainty is less than that caused by the imperfectly known probe response, possible noise spikes on the probes, and variability in the degree of microstructure anisotropy; the latter two effects were estimated from a pair of closely spaced probes. Each of these uncertainties is about ±15%. Statistically significant low-frequency variability of χ is observed with 〈χ〉 decreasing by a factor of 2 between the first and second half of the observation. This low-frequency variability is likely the largest cause of error in estimating a seasonally averaged diapycnal diffusivity.

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