Diagnosing Surface Mixed Layer Dynamics from High-Resolution Satellite Observations: Numerical Insights

Type Publication
Date 2013-07
Language English
Copyright 2013 American Meteorological Society
Author(s) Ponte AurelienORCID1, Klein Patrice1, Capet Xavier2, Le Traon Pierre-Yves3, Chapron Bertrand3, Lherminier PascaleORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, CNRS, UBO, Lab Phys Oceans,IRD, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : IPSL, LOCEAN, Paris, France.
3 : IFREMER, Lab Oceanog Spatiale, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Journal Of Physical Oceanography (0022-3670) (Amer Meteorological Soc), 2013-07 , Vol. 43 , N. 7 , P. 1345-1355
DOI 10.1175/JPO-D-12-0136.1
WOS© Times Cited 14
Keyword(s) Mesoscale processes, Ocean dynamics, Turbulence
Abstract High-resolution numerical experiments of ocean mesoscale eddy turbulence show that the wind-driven mixed layer (ML) dynamics affects mesoscale motions in the surface layers at scales lower than O(60 km). At these scales, surface horizontal currents are still coherent to, but weaker than, those derived from sea surface height using geostrophy. Vertical motions, on the other hand, are stronger than those diagnosed using the adiabatic quasigeotrophic (QG) framework. An analytical model, based on a scaling analysis and on simple dynamical arguments, provides a physical understanding and leads to a parameterization of these features in terms of vertical mixing. These results are valid when the wind-driven velocity scale is much smaller than that associated with eddies and the Ekman number (related to the ratio between the Ekman and ML depth) is not small. This suggests that, in these specific situations, three-dimensional ML motions (including the vertical velocity) can be diagnosed from high-resolution satellite observations combined with a climatological knowledge of ML conditions and interior stratification.
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Ponte Aurelien, Klein Patrice, Capet Xavier, Le Traon Pierre-Yves, Chapron Bertrand, Lherminier Pascale (2013). Diagnosing Surface Mixed Layer Dynamics from High-Resolution Satellite Observations: Numerical Insights. Journal Of Physical Oceanography, 43(7), 1345-1355. Publisher's official version : http://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-12-0136.1 , Open Access version : http://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00170/28076/