Inhomogeneous turbulent dispersion across the nearshore induced by surfzone eddies

TitleInhomogeneous turbulent dispersion across the nearshore induced by surfzone eddies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsSpydell M.S, Feddersen F, Suanda S.
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Date Published2019/04
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-3670
Accession NumberWOS:000463617100001
Keywordscirculation; Coastlines; diffusion; directionally spread; dispersion; eddy diffusivity; generation; lagrangian statistics; ocean; oceanography; suppression; tracer; trajectories; turbulence; waves; zone

In various oceanic regions, drifter-derived diffusivities reach a temporal maximum and subsequently decrease. Often, these are regions of inhomogeneous eddies, however, the effect of inhomogeneous turbulence on dispersion is poorly understood. The nearshore region (spanning from the surfzone to the inner shelf) also has strong cross-shore inhomogeneous turbulence. Nearshore Lagrangian statistics are estimated from drifter trajectories simulated with a wave-resolving two-dimensional Boussinesq model with random, normally incident, and directionally spread waves. The simulation is idealized and does not include other (wind, tidal, Coriolis) processes. The eddy field cross-shore inhomogeneity affects both the mean cross-shore drift and cross- and alongshore diffusivities. Short-time diffusivities are locally ballistic, and the mean drift is toward the eddy velocity variance maximum. The diffusivities reach a maximum and subsequently decrease, that is, are subdiffusive. The diffusivity maximum and time to maximum are parameterized taking into account the eddy field inhomogeneity. At long times, the cross- and alongshore diffusivities scale as t(-1/2) and t(-1/4), respectively, which is related to the offshore decay of the eddy intensity. A diffusion equation, with a space-dependent Fickian diffusivity related to the eddy velocity variance, reproduced the short-, intermediate-, and long-time behavior of the mean drift and cross-shore diffusivity. The small Middleton parameter, indicating fixed float dispersion, suggests the Eulerian time scale can parameterize the Lagrangian time scale in this region. Although this idealized simulation had no mean currents, and thus no shear dispersion or mixing suppression, inhomogeneous turbulence effects may be relevant in other regions such as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and western boundary current extensions.

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