Effects of eddy vorticity forcing on the mean state of the Kuroshio Extension

TitleEffects of eddy vorticity forcing on the mean state of the Kuroshio Extension
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsDelman A.S, McClean JL, Sprintall J, Talley LD, Yulaeva E., Jayne SR
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Date Published2015/05
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-3670
Accession NumberWOS:000354370700009
Keywordsbaroclinic jets; disturbances; flow; gulf-stream; heat fluxes; instability; model; north pacific; scale ocean circulation; variability

Eddy-mean flow interactions along the Kuroshio Extension (KE) jet are investigated using a vorticity budget of a high-resolution ocean model simulation, averaged over a 13-yr period. The simulation explicitly resolves mesoscale eddies in the KE and is forced with air-sea fluxes representing the years 1995-2007. A mean-eddy decomposition in a jet-following coordinate system removes the variability of the jet path from the eddy components of velocity; thus, eddy kinetic energy in the jet reference frame is substantially lower than in geographic coordinates and exhibits a cross-jet asymmetry that is consistent with the baroclinic instability criterion of the long-term mean field. The vorticity budget is computed in both geographic (i. e., Eulerian) and jet reference frames; the jet frame budget reveals several patterns of eddy forcing that are largely attributed to varicose modes of variability. Eddies tend to diffuse the relative vorticity minima/maxima that flank the jet, removing momentum from the fast-moving jet core and reinforcing the quasi-permanent meridional meanders in the mean jet. A pattern associated with the vertical stretching of relative vorticity in eddies indicates a deceleration (acceleration) of the jet coincident with northward (southward) quasi-permanent meanders. Eddy relative vorticity advection outside of the eastward jet core is balanced mostly by vertical stretching of the mean flow, which through baroclinic adjustment helps to drive the flanking recirculation gyres. The jet frame vorticity budget presents a well-defined picture of eddy activity, illustrating along-jet variations in eddy-mean flow interaction that may have implications for the jet's dynamics and cross-frontal tracer fluxes.

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