Oceanic Mesoscale Eddy Depletion Catalyzed by 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.


oceanic energy transfers, mesoscale eddies, submesoscale fronts, internal waves

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Barkan Roy, Srinivasan Kaushik, Yang Luwei, McWilliams James C., Gula Jonathan, Vic Clement (2021). Oceanic Mesoscale Eddy Depletion Catalyzed by Internal Waves. Geophysical Research Letters. 48 (18). e2021GL094376 (11p.). https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL094376, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00730/84221/

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