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Seasonality of Deep Cycle Turbulence in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific

TitleSeasonality of Deep Cycle Turbulence in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsPham H.T, Smyth W.D, Sarkar S., Moum J.N
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Date Published2017/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-3670
Accession NumberWOS:000412116100003
Keywordscool skin; dissipation; internal waves; marginal instability; shear-flow; stability; surface-layer; temperature; undercurrent; upper-ocean

The seasonal cycles of the various oceanic and atmospheric factors influencing the deep cycle of turbulence in the eastern Pacific cold tongue are explored. Moored observations at 140 degrees W have shown seasonal variability in the stratification, velocity shear, and turbulence above the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC). In boreal spring, the thermocline and EUC shoal and turbulence decreases. Marginal instability (clustering of the local gradient Richardson number around the critical value of 1/4), evident throughout the rest of the year, has not been detected during spring. While the daily averaged turbulent energy dissipation in the EUC is weakest during the spring, it is not clear whether the diurnal fluctuations that define the deep cycle cease. Large-eddy simulations are performed using climatological initial and boundary conditions representative of January, April, July, and October. Deep cycle turbulence is evident in all cases; the mechanism remains the same, and the maximum turbulence levels are similar. In the April simulation, however, the deep cycle is confined to the uppermost; similar to 30 m, explaining why it has not been detected in moored microstructure observations.

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