Publications

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2017
Alberty, MS, Sprintall J, MacKinnon J, Ganachaud A, Cravatte S, Eldin G, Germineaud C, Melet A.  2017.  Spatial patterns of mixing in the Solomon Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 122:4021-4039.   10.1002/2016jc012666   AbstractWebsite

The Solomon Sea is a marginal sea in the southwest Pacific that connects subtropical and equatorial circulation, constricting transport of South Pacific Subtropical Mode Water and Antarctic Intermediate Water through its deep, narrow channels. Marginal sea topography inhibits internal waves from propagating out and into the open ocean, making these regions hot spots for energy dissipation and mixing. Data from two hydrographic cruises and from Argo profiles are employed to indirectly infer mixing from observations for the first time in the Solomon Sea. Thorpe and finescale methods indirectly estimate the rate of dissipation of kinetic energy (E) and indicate that it is maximum in the surface and thermocline layers and decreases by 2-3 orders of magnitude by 2000 m depth. Estimates of diapycnal diffusivity from the observations and a simple diffusive model agree in magnitude but have different depth structures, likely reflecting the combined influence of both diapycnal mixing and isopycnal stirring. Spatial variability of E is large, spanning at least 2 orders of magnitude within isopycnal layers. Seasonal variability of E reflects regional monsoonal changes in large-scale oceanic and atmospheric conditions with E increased in July and decreased in March. Finally, tide power input and topographic roughness are well correlated with mean spatial patterns of mixing within intermediate and deep isopycnals but are not clearly correlated with thermocline mixing patterns. Plain Language Summary In the ocean, a number of physical processes move heat, salt, and nutrients around vertically by mixing neighboring layers of the ocean together. This study investigates the strength and spatial patterns of this mixing in the Solomon Sea, which is located in the tropical west Pacific Ocean. Estimates of the strength of mixing are made using measurements of temperature, salinity, and velocity taken during two scientific cruises in the Solomon Sea. Measurements of temperature and salinity from a network of floats that move up and down through the ocean and travel with ocean currents were also used to estimate the strength and patterns of mixing. This research finds three key results for mixing in the Solomon Sea: (1) Mixing is strongest near the surface of the Solomon Sea and less strong at deeper depths. (2) Mixing varies horizontally, with stronger mixing above underwater ridges and seamounts, and with weaker mixing above smooth and flat seafloor. (3) The strength of mixing changes with the seasons, possibly related to the monsoonal winds which also change in strength over the seasons.

2016
Alford, MH, MacKinnon JA, Simmons HL, Nash JD.  2016.  Near-inertial internal gravity waves in the ocean. Annual Review of Marine Science, Vol 8. 8( Carlson CA, Giovannoni SJ, Eds.).:95-123., Palo Alto: Annual Reviews   10.1146/annurev-marine-010814-015746   Abstract

We review the physics of near-inertial waves (NIWs) in the ocean and the observations, theory, and models that have provided our present knowledge. NIWs appear nearly everywhere in the ocean as a spectral peak at and just above the local inertial period f, and the longest vertical wavelengths can propagate at least hundreds of kilometers toward the equator from their source regions; shorter vertical wavelengths do not travel as far and do not contain as much energy, but lead to turbulent mixing owing to their high shear. NIWs are generated by a variety of mechanisms, including the wind, nonlinear interactions with waves of other frequencies, lee waves over bottom topography, and geostrophic adjustment; the partition among these is not known, although the wind is likely the most important. NIWs likely interact strongly with mesoscale and submesoscale motions, in ways that are just beginning to be understood.

2014
Waterhouse, AF, MacKinnon JA, Nash JD, Alford MH, Kunze E, Simmons HL, Polzin KL, St Laurent LC, Sun OM, Pinkel R, Talley LD, Whalen CB, Huussen TN, Carter GS, Fer I, Waterman S, Garabato ACN, Sanford TB, Lee CM.  2014.  Global patterns of diapycnal mixing from measurements of the turbulent dissipation rate. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 44:1854-1872.   10.1175/jpo-d-13-0104.1   AbstractWebsite

The authors present inferences of diapycnal diffusivity from a compilation of over 5200 microstructure profiles. As microstructure observations are sparse, these are supplemented with indirect measurements of mixing obtained from(i) Thorpe-scale overturns from moored profilers, a finescale parameterization applied to (ii) shipboard observations of upper-ocean shear, (iii) strain as measured by profiling floats, and (iv) shear and strain from full-depth lowered acoustic Doppler current profilers (LADCP) and CTD profiles. Vertical profiles of the turbulent dissipation rate are bottom enhanced over rough topography and abrupt, isolated ridges. The geography of depth-integrated dissipation rate shows spatial variability related to internal wave generation, suggesting one direct energy pathway to turbulence. The global-averaged diapycnal diffusivity below 1000-m depth is O(10(-4))m(2) s(-1) and above 1000-m depth is O(10(-5))m(2) s(-1). The compiled microstructure observations sample a wide range of internal wave power inputs and topographic roughness, providing a dataset with which to estimate a representative global-averaged dissipation rate and diffusivity. However, there is strong regional variability in the ratio between local internal wave generation and local dissipation. In some regions, the depth-integrated dissipation rate is comparable to the estimated power input into the local internal wave field. In a few cases, more internal wave power is dissipated than locally generated, suggesting remote internal wave sources. However, at most locations the total power lost through turbulent dissipation is less than the input into the local internal wave field. This suggests dissipation elsewhere, such as continental margins.

2010
Zhao, ZX, Alford MH, MacKinnon JA, Pinkel R.  2010.  Long-Range Propagation of the Semidiurnal Internal Tide from the Hawaiian Ridge. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 40:713-736.   10.1175/2009jpo4207.1   AbstractWebsite

The northeastward progression of the semidiurnal internal tide from French Frigate Shoals (FFS), Hawaii, is studied with an array of six simultaneous profiling moorings spanning 25.5 degrees-37.1 degrees N (approximate to 1400 km) and 13-yr-long Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX)/Poseidon (TIP) altimeter data processed by a new technique. The moorings have excellent temporal and vertical resolutions, while the altimeter offers broad spatial coverage of the surface manifestation of the internal tide's coherent portion. Together these two approaches provide a unique view of the internal tide's long-range propagation in a complex ocean environment. The moored observations reveal a rich, time-variable, and multimodal internal tide field, with higher-mode motions contributing significantly to velocity, displacement, and energy. In spite of these contributions, the coherent mode-1 internal tide dominates the northeastward energy flux, and is detectable in both moored and altimetric data over the entire array. Phase and group propagation measured independently from moorings and altimetry agree well with theoretical values. Sea surface height anomalies (SSHAs) measured from moorings and altimetry agree well in amplitude and phase until the northern end of the array, where phase differences arise presumably from refraction by mesoscale flows. Observed variations in SSHA, energy flux, and kinetic-to-potential energy ratio indicate an interference pattern resulting from superposed northeastward radiation from Hawaii and southeastward from the Aleutian Ridge. A simple model of two plane waves explains most of these features.