University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series > Examining mechanisms for submesoscale eddy generation using observations in the North Atlantic

Examining mechanisms for submesoscale eddy generation using observations in the North Atlantic

Add to your list(s) Download to your calendar using vCal

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Peter Davis.

If external to BAS, please email the organiser in advance to gain access to the building

A high-resolution satellite image that reveals a train of coherent, submesoscale (6-km) vortices along the edge of an ocean front is examined in concert with hydrographic measurements in an effort to understand formation mechanisms of the submesoscale eddies. The infrared satellite image consists of ocean surface temperatures at 390-m resolution over the mid-latitude North Atlantic (48.69°N, 16.19°W). Concomitant altimetric observations coupled with regular spacing of the eddies suggests the eddies result from mesoscale stirring, filamentation and subsequent frontal instability. While horizontal shear or barotropic instability (BTI) is one mechanism for generating such eddies (Munk’s hypothesis), we conclude from linear theory coupled with the in situ data that mixed layer or submesoscale baroclinic instability (BCI) is a more plausible explanation for the observed submesoscale vortices. Here, we assume that the frontal disturbance remains in its linear growth stage and is accurately described by linear dynamics. This result likely has greater applicability to the open ocean—i.e., regions where the lateral shear is reduced relative to its value along coasts and within strong current systems. Given that such waters comprise an appreciable percentage of the ocean surface and that energy fluxes differ under BTI and BCI , this result has wider implications for open-ocean energy budgets and parameterisations of these small-scale processes within ocean general circulation models. In summary, this work provides rare observational evidence of submesoscale eddy generation by BCI in the open ocean.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

Tell a friend about this talk:

This talk is included in these lists:

Note that ex-directory lists are not shown.

 

© 2006-2017 Talks.cam, University of Cambridge. Contact Us | Help and Documentation | Privacy and Publicity