Mesoscale Upwelling and Density Finestructure in the Seasonal Thermocline—A Dynamical Model

Onken, Reiner (1992) Mesoscale Upwelling and Density Finestructure in the Seasonal Thermocline—A Dynamical Model Journal of Physical Oceanography, 22 (11). pp. 1257-1273. DOI 10.1175/1520-0485(1992)022<1257:MUADFI>2.0.CO;2.

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Results of a three-dimensional primitive equation model are presented simulating turbulent mesoscale motions in the seasonal thermocline on an f plane. The model is based on a hybrid vertical coordinate scheme and conserves isopycnic potential vorticity.

Mesoscale turbulence is modeled in terms of an unstable potential vorticity front. The model integration starts from a purely zonal, 60-km-wide geostrophically balanced jet, on which is superimposed a small initial perturbation. The most unstable mode exhibits a wavelength of 85 km and is driven by a mixed type of instability. Characteristic dynamical ingredients of the wave are enhanced cyclonic and anticyclonic relative vorticity in the troughs and the ridges, respectively, due to the curvature of the flow. Vertical motion of up to 10 m d−1 occurring downstream of the ridges (downwelling) and downstream of the troughs (upwelling) is driven by geostrophic advection of relative vorticity. The contrast of static stability across the front is changing during amplification of the instability: in troughs the stability is decreasing whereas in ridges it is increasing. The density field exhibits local anomalies of the isopycnals' depths (bumps) due to the ageostrophic cross-jet advection of potential vorticity streamers wound up in cyclones and anticyclones. Locally, the potential vorticity gradients are enhanced, creating a multiple front structure.

The model results support observations and findings of earlier atmospheric and oceanic models. It is emphasized that mesoscale turbulent structures may have a profound influence on primary productivity, mixed-layer, and internal wave dynamics.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1175/1520-0485(1992)022<1257:MUADFI>2.0.CO;2
ISSN: 0022-3670
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2018 10:14
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2018 10:14

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