Tracer stirring around a meddy: The formation of layering

Type Article
Date 2015-02
Language English
Author(s) Meunier Thomas1, Menesguen ClaireORCID1, Schopp Richard1, Le Gentil Sylvie1
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Lab Phys Oceans, F-29280 Plouzane, Brittany, France.
Source Journal Of Physical Oceanography (0022-3670) (Amer Meteorological Soc), 2015-02 , Vol. 45 , N. 2 , P. 407-423
DOI 10.1175/JPO-D-14-0061.1
WOS© Times Cited 25
Keyword(s) Circulation/ Dynamics, Advection, Dynamics, Atm/Ocean Structure/ Phenomena, Vortices, Models and modeling, Primitive equations model, Quasigeostrophic models, Tracers
Abstract The dynamics of the formation of layering surrounding meddy-like vortex lenses is investigated using primitive equation (PE), quasigeostrophic (QG), and tracer advection models. Recent in situ data inside a meddy confirmed the formation of highly density-compensated layers in temperature and salinity at the periphery of the vortex core. Very high-resolution PE modeling of an idealized meddy showed the formation of realistic layers even in the absence of double-diffusive processes. The strong density compensation observed in the PE model, in good agreement with in situ data, suggests that stirring might be a leading process in the generation of layering. Passive tracer experiments confirmed that the vertical variance cascade in the periphery of the vortex core is triggered by the vertical shear of the azimuthal velocity, resulting in the generation of thin layers. The time evolution of this process down to scales of O(10) m is quantified, and a simple scaling is proposed and shown to describe precisely the thinning down of the layers as a function of the initial tracer column's horizontal width and the vertical shear of the azimuthal velocity. Nonlinear QG simulations were performed and analyzed for comparison with the work of Hua et al. A step-by-step interpretation of these results on the evolution of layering is proposed in the context of tracer stirring.
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