Topic: Submesoscale eddies in the abyssal ocean
Abstract: Water mass transformation by small-scale mixing is required for the dense bottom waters formed around Antarctica to upwell across isopycnals and eventually return to the surface. Observations show that abyssal mixing is strongly enhanced in the bottom few hundred meters in regions where tidal and geostrophic flows pass over rough topography. This bottom-intensification of mixing has interesting consequences for the structure of the abyssal overturning. For bottom-intensified turbulence to affect the overturning, however, it must occur in stratified water – otherwise it would mix mixed fluid. In this talk, I will discuss the possibility that stratification in abyssal mixing layers is maintained by submesoscale baroclinic eddies, which slide dense under light water at lateral scales of order 10 km. Implications for the understanding and modeling of the abyssal overturning circulation will be discussed.
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