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

Type Article
Date 2016-02
Language English
Author(s) Klymak Jody M.1, Shearman R. Kipp2, Gula JonathanORCID3, Lee Craig M.4, D'Asaro Eric A.4, Thomas Leif N.5, Harcourt Ramsey R.4, Shcherbina Andrey Y.4, Sundermeyer Miles A.6, Molemaker Jeroen7, McWilliams James C.7
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Victoria, Sch Earth & Ocean Sci, Victoria, BC, Canada.
2 : Oregon State Univ, Coll Earth Ocean & Atmospher Sci, Corvallis, OR 97331 USA.
3 : Univ Bretagne Occidentale, Lab Oceanog Phys & Spatiale, Brest, France.
4 : Univ Washington, Appl Phys Lab, Seattle, WA 98195 USA.
5 : Stanford Univ, Sch Earth Sci, Stanford, CA 94305 USA.
6 : Univ Massachusetts, Sch Marine Sci & Technol, Dartmouth, MA USA.
7 : Univ Calif Los Angeles, Dept Atmospher & Ocean Sci, Los Angeles, CA USA.
Source Geophysical Research Letters (0094-8276) (Amer Geophysical Union), 2016-02 , Vol. 43 , N. 3 , P. 1226-1233
DOI 10.1002/2015GL067152
WOS© Times Cited 27
Keyword(s) ocean mixing, Gulf Stream, submesoscale mixing, eddies

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.

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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. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :