On the accuracy of overturn-based estimates of turbulent dissipation at rough topography

TitleOn the accuracy of overturn-based estimates of turbulent dissipation at rough topography
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJalali M., Chalamalla V.K, Sarkar S.
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Volume47
Pagination513-532
Date Published2017/03
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-3670
Accession NumberWOS:000397574000003
Keywordsabyssal ocean; energetics; energy; flow; Internal tide; large-eddy simulation; length scales; mixing layer; model; ridge
Abstract

Evidence in support of overturn-based methods, often used to infer turbulent dissipation rate from density profiles, is typically from regions with weaker turbulence than that at rough-topography hotspots. The present work uses direct numerical simulations (DNS) of an idealized problem of sloping topography as well as highresolution large-eddy simulation (LES) of turbulent flow at more realistic topography in order to investigate the accuracy of overturn-based methods in sites with internal wave breaking. Two methods are assessed: Thorpe sorting, where the overturn length LT is based on local distortion of measured density from the background, and inversion sorting, where the inversion length scale LI measures the statically unstable local region. The overturn boundaries are different between the two methods. Thorpe sorting leads to an order of magnitude overestimate of the turbulent dissipation in theDNS during large convective overturn events when inversion sorting is more accurate. The LES of steep, realistic topography leads to a similar conclusion of a substantial overestimate of dissipation by Thorpe sorting. Energy arguments explain the better performance of inversion sorting in convectively driven turbulence and the better performance of Thorpe sorting in sheardriven turbulence.

DOI10.1175/jpo-d-15-0169.1
Student Publication: 
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