Quantifying and interpreting striations in a subtropical gyre: A spectral perspective

TitleQuantifying and interpreting striations in a subtropical gyre: A spectral perspective
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsChen R., Flierl G.R, Wunsch C.
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Date Published2015/02
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-3670
Accession NumberWOS:000349546200005
Keywordsbeta-plane; coherent structures; energy; flows; geostrophic turbulence; Mesoscale eddies; Ocean circulation; propagation; vortices; zonal jets

The amplitude, origin, and direction of striations in the subtropical gyre are investigated using simulated and analytical multidimensional spectra. Striations, defined as banded structures in the low-frequency motions, account for a noticeable percentage of zonal velocity variability in the east North Pacific (ENP: 25 degrees-42 degrees N, 150 degrees-130 degrees W) and central North Pacific (CNP: 10 degrees-22 degrees N, 132 degrees E-162 degrees W) regions in an eddying global ocean model. Thus, they likely are nonnegligible in mixing and transport processes. Striations in the ENP region are nonzonal and are embedded in the nonzonal gyre flow, whereas striations in the CNP region are more zonal, as are the mean gyre flows. An idealized 1.5-layer model shows the gyre flow partially determines their directions, which qualitatively resemble those in the global eddying model. In the linear limit, structures are quasi-stationary (frequency omega -> 0) linear Rossby waves and the gyre flow influences the direction by influencing the nature of the zero Rossby wave frequency curve. In the nonlinear regime, striations are consistent with the nondispersively propagating eddies, whose low-frequency component has banded structures. The gyre flow influences the striation direction by changing the eddy propagation direction. Their origin in the nonlinear regime is consistent with the existence of a nondispersive line in the frequency-wavenumber spectra. This study does not exclude other striation mechanisms from literature, considering that the interpretations here are based on an idealized model and only from a spectral perspective.

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