Oceanic vortex mergers are not isolated but influenced by the beta-effect and surrounding eddies

Type Article
Date 2020-02
Language English
Author(s) de Marez Charly1, Carton Xavier1, L'Hegaret Pierre1, Meunier Thomas2, Stegner Alexandre3, Le Vu Briac3, Morvan Mathieu1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Brest, Lab Oceanog Phys & Spatiale LOPS, Plouzane, France.
2 : CICESE, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.
3 : Ecole Polytech, CNRS, Lab Meteorol Dynam, Palaiseau, France.
Source Scientific Reports (2045-2322) (Nature Publishing Group), 2020-02 , Vol. 10 , N. 1 , P. 2897 (10p.)
DOI 10.1038/s41598-020-59800-y
WOS© Times Cited 12

Oceanic vortices are ubiquitous in the ocean. They dominate the sub-inertial energy spectrum, and their dynamics is key for the evolution of the water column properties. The merger of two like-signed coherent vortices, which ultimately results in the formation of a larger vortex, provides an efficient mechanism for the lateral mixing of water masses in the ocean. Understanding the conditions of such interaction in the ocean is thus essential. Here, we use a merger detection algorithm to draw a global picture of this process in the ocean. We show that vortex mergers are not isolated, contrary to the hypothesis made in most earlier studies. Paradoxically, the merging distance is well reproduced by isolated vortex merger numerical simulations, but it is imperative to consider both the beta -effect and the presence of neighbouring eddies to fully understand the physics of oceanic vortex merger.

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