Along-isopycnal variability of spice in the North Pacific

TitleAlong-isopycnal variability of spice in the North Pacific
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsKlymak J.M, Crawford W., Alford MH, MacKinnon JA, Pinkel R
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Date Published2015/03
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2169-9275
Accession NumberWOS:000353900000045
Keywordsdynamics; eddies; energy; lateral mixing; mesoscale; ocean turbulence; salinity; submesoscale; temperature; upper ocean dynamics; upper-ocean turbulence

Two hydrographic surveys in the Gulf of Alaska and the North Pacific subtropical gyre are presented. Both surveys are roughly perpendicular to lateral temperature gradients, and were collected in the summer when there was a shallow mixed layer and a seasonal thermocline. Isopycnal displacements and horizontal velocities are dominated by internal waves. Spice anomalies along isopycnals are examined to diagnose lateral stirring mechanisms. The spectra of spice anomaly gradients along near-surface isopycnals roughly follow power laws of similar to k(X)(0.6+/-0.2) (variance spectra power laws similar to k(X)(1.4+/-0.2)), and in most cases, the spectra become redder at depth. The near-surface spectra are possibly consistent with the predictions of quasi-geostrophic turbulence theory (when surface buoyancy effects are accounted for), but the spectra at depth are inconsistent with any quasi-geostrophic theory. Probability distributions of spice gradients exhibit a large peak at low gradients and long tails for large gradients, symptomatic of fronts. Vertical coherence of the spice signal falls off with a decorrelation depth scale that has a maximum of about 80 m at 100 km wavelengths and depends on horizontal wavelength with a power law of approximately k(x)(-1/2). Lateral decorrelation length scales are 20-40 km, close to the baroclinic Rossby radius. Lateral stirring occurs over large scales, with average lateral displacements of about 200 km in the upper 75 m, decreasing to 100 km at greater depths. The depth variation of the statistics indicates that time history of tracer stirring on each isopycnal is important, or that there are unconsidered depth-dependent stirring mechanisms.

Short TitleJ Geophys Res-Oceans
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