Oceanic Mesoscale Eddy Depletion Catalyzed by Internal Waves

Type Article
Date 2021-09
Language English
Author(s) Barkan RoyORCID1, 2, Srinivasan Kaushik2, Yang Luwei2, McWilliams James C.2, Gula JonathanORCID4, 5, Vic Clement3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Tel Aviv Univ, Porter Sch Environm & Earth Sci, Tel Aviv, Israel.
2 : Univ Calif Los Angeles, Dept Atmospher & Ocean Sci, Los Angeles, CA 90095 USA.
3 : Univ Bretagne Occidentale, Lab Oceanog Phys & Spatiale, Plouzane, France.
4 : Inst Univ France IUF, Paris, France.
5 : Univ Bretagne Occidentale, Lab Oceanog Phys & Spatiale, Plouzane, France.
Source Geophysical Research Letters (0094-8276) (Amer Geophysical Union), 2021-09 , Vol. 48 , N. 18 , P. e2021GL094376 (11p.)
DOI 10.1029/2021GL094376
WOS© Times Cited 21
Keyword(s) oceanic energy transfers, mesoscale eddies, submesoscale fronts, internal waves
Abstract

The processes leading to the depletion of oceanic mesoscale kinetic energy (KE) and the energization of near-inertial internal waves are investigated using a suite of realistically forced regional ocean simulations. By carefully modifying the forcing fields we show that solutions where internal waves are forced have similar to 25% less mesoscale KE compared with solutions where they are not. We apply a coarse-graining method to quantify the KE fluxes across time scales and demonstrate that the decrease in mesoscale KE is associated with an internal wave-induced reduction of the inverse energy cascade and an enhancement of the forward energy cascade from sub-to super-inertial frequencies. The integrated KE forward transfer rate in the upper ocean is equivalent to half and a quarter of the regionally averaged near-inertial wind work in winter and summer, respectively, with the strongest fluxes localized at surface submesoscale fronts and filaments.

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