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

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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