Destratification and Restratification of the Spring Surface Boundary Layer in a Subtropical Front

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  • 1 1 NorthWest Research Associates, Redmond, WA, 98052
  • | 2 2 APL, U of Washington, Seattle, WA 98015
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Abstract

Destratification and restratification of a ~50-m thick surface boundary layer in the North Pacific Subtropical Front are examined during 24-31 March 2017 in the wake of a storm using a ~ 5-km array of 23 chi-augmented EM profiling floats (u, v, T, S, χT), as well as towyo and ADCP ship surveys, shipboard air-sea surface fluxes and parameterized shortwave penetrative radiation. During the first four days, nocturnal destabilizing buoyancy-fluxes mixed the surface layer over almost its full depth every night followed by restratification to N ~ 2 × 10–3 rad s–1 during daylight. Starting on 28 March, nocturnal destabilizing buoyancy-fluxes weakened because weakening winds reduced the latent heat-flux. Shallow mixing and stratified transition layers formed above ~20-m depth. The remnant layer in the lower part of the surface layer was insulated from destabilizing surface forcing. Penetrative radiation, turbulent buoyancy-fluxes and horizontal buoyancy advection all contribute to restratification of this remnant layer, closing the budget to within measurement uncertainties. Buoyancy advective restratification (slumping) plays a minor role. Before 28 March, measured advective restratification ∫(uzbx + vzby)dt is confined to daytime, is often destratifying and is much stronger than predictions of geostrophic adjustment, mixed-layer eddy instability and Ekman buoyancy-flux predictions because of storm-forced inertial shear. Starting on 28 March, the subinertial envelope of measured buoyancy advective restratification in the remnant layer resembles MLE parameterization predictions.

Corresponding author: NorthWest Research Associates, Redmond, WA, 98052, email: kunze@nwra.com

Abstract

Destratification and restratification of a ~50-m thick surface boundary layer in the North Pacific Subtropical Front are examined during 24-31 March 2017 in the wake of a storm using a ~ 5-km array of 23 chi-augmented EM profiling floats (u, v, T, S, χT), as well as towyo and ADCP ship surveys, shipboard air-sea surface fluxes and parameterized shortwave penetrative radiation. During the first four days, nocturnal destabilizing buoyancy-fluxes mixed the surface layer over almost its full depth every night followed by restratification to N ~ 2 × 10–3 rad s–1 during daylight. Starting on 28 March, nocturnal destabilizing buoyancy-fluxes weakened because weakening winds reduced the latent heat-flux. Shallow mixing and stratified transition layers formed above ~20-m depth. The remnant layer in the lower part of the surface layer was insulated from destabilizing surface forcing. Penetrative radiation, turbulent buoyancy-fluxes and horizontal buoyancy advection all contribute to restratification of this remnant layer, closing the budget to within measurement uncertainties. Buoyancy advective restratification (slumping) plays a minor role. Before 28 March, measured advective restratification ∫(uzbx + vzby)dt is confined to daytime, is often destratifying and is much stronger than predictions of geostrophic adjustment, mixed-layer eddy instability and Ekman buoyancy-flux predictions because of storm-forced inertial shear. Starting on 28 March, the subinertial envelope of measured buoyancy advective restratification in the remnant layer resembles MLE parameterization predictions.

Corresponding author: NorthWest Research Associates, Redmond, WA, 98052, email: kunze@nwra.com
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