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Evolution of oceanic near surface stratification in response to an autumn storm

Lucas, N. S., Grant, A. L. M., Rippeth, T. P., Polton, J. A., Palmer, M. R., Brannigan, L. and Belcher, S. E. (2019) Evolution of oceanic near surface stratification in response to an autumn storm. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 49 (11). pp. 2961-2978. ISSN 1520-0485

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/jpo-d-19-0007.1


Understanding the processes that control the evolution of the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) is a prerequisite for obtaining accurate simulations of air-sea fluxes of heat and trace gases. Observations of the rate of dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy (ɛ), temperature, salinity, current structure and wave-field over a period of 9.5 days in the NE Atlantic during the Ocean Surface Mixing, Ocean Submesoscale Interaction Study (OSMOSIS), are presented. The focus of this study is a storm which passed over the observational area during this period. The profiles of ɛ in the OSBL are consistent with profiles from large eddy simulation (LES) of Langmuir turbulence. In the transition layer (TL), at the base of the OSBL, ɛ was found to vary periodically at the local inertial frequency. A simple bulk model of the OSBL and a parametrisation of shear driven turbulence in the TL are developed. The parametrisation of ɛ is based on assumptions about the momentum balance of the OSBL and shear across the TL. The predicted rate of deepening, heat budget and the inertial currents in the OSBL were in good agreement with the observations, as is the agreement between the observed value of ɛ and that predicted using the parametrisation. A previous study reported spikes of elevated dissipation related to enhanced wind-shear alignment at the base of the OSBL after this storm. The spikes in dissipation are not predicted by this new parametrisation, implying that they are not an important source of dissipation during the storm.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:86803
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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