Submesoscale streamers exchange water on the north wall of the Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream is a major conduit of warm surface water from the tropics to the subpolar North Atlantic. Here we observe and simulate a submesoscale (<20km) mechanism by which the Gulf Stream exchanges water with subpolar water to the north. Along isopycnals, the front has a sharp compensated temperature-salinity contrast, with distinct mixed water between the two water masses 2 and 4km wide. This mixed water does not increase downstream despite substantial energy available for mixing. A series of streamers detrain this water at the crest of meanders. Subpolar water replaces the mixed water and resharpens the front. The water mass exchange accounts for a northward flux of salt of 0.5-2.5 psum(2)s(-1), (large-scale diffusivity O (100m(2)s(-1))). This is similar to bulk-scale flux estimates of 1.2psum(2)s(-1) and supplies fresher water to the Gulf Stream required for the production of 18 degrees subtropical mode water.


ocean mixing, Gulf Stream, submesoscale mixing, eddies

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Klymak Jody M., Shearman R. Kipp, Gula Jonathan, Lee Craig M., D'Asaro Eric A., Thomas Leif N., Harcourt Ramsey R., Shcherbina Andrey Y., Sundermeyer Miles A., Molemaker Jeroen, McWilliams James C. (2016). Submesoscale streamers exchange water on the north wall of the Gulf Stream. Geophysical Research Letters. 43 (3). 1226-1233.,

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