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Whalen, CB, MacKinnon JA, Talley LD.  2018.  Large-scale impacts of the mesoscale environment on mixing from wind-driven internal waves. Nature Geoscience. 11:842-+.   10.1038/s41561-018-0213-6   AbstractWebsite

Oceanic mesoscale structures such as eddies and fronts can alter the propagation, breaking and subsequent turbulent mixing of wind-generated internal waves. However, it has been difficult to ascertain whether these processes affect the global-scale patterns, timing and magnitude of turbulent mixing, thereby powering the global oceanic overturning circulation and driving the transport of heat and dissolved gases. Here we present global evidence demonstrating that mesoscale features can significantly enhance turbulent mixing due to wind-generated internal waves. Using internal wave-driven mixing estimates calculated from Argo profiling floats between 30 degrees and 45 degrees N, we find that both the amplitude of the seasonal cycle of turbulent mixing and the response to increases in the wind energy flux are larger to a depth of at least 2,000 m in the presence of a strong and temporally uniform field of mesoscale eddy kinetic energy. Mixing is especially strong within energetic anticyclonic mesoscale features compared to cyclonic features, indicating that local modification of wind-driven internal waves is probably one mechanism contributing to the elevated mixing observed in energetic mesoscale environments.

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.

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Oka, E, Uehara K, Nakano T, Suga T, Yanagimoto D, Kouketsu S, Itoh S, Katsura S, Talley LD.  2014.  Synoptic observation of Central Mode Water in its formation region in spring 2003. Journal of Oceanography. 70:521-534.   10.1007/s10872-014-0248-2   AbstractWebsite

Hydrographic data east of Japan from five research cruises and Argo profiling floats in spring 2003 have been analyzed to examine the relationship of the formation of Central Mode Water (CMW) and Transition Region Mode Water (TRMW) in late winter 2003 to thermohaline fronts and mesoscale eddies. TRMW and the denser variety of CMW (D-CMW) were formed continuously just south of the subarctic frontal zone between 155 degrees E and 165 degrees W with little relation to eddies, suggesting that the absence of the permanent thermocline and halocline in this area is essential for the formation. The lighter variety of CMW (L-CMW) was formed south of the Kuroshio bifurcation front and east of 165 degrees E, partly in an anticyclonic eddy associated with the Kuroshio Extension. Some portion of D-CMW and L-CMW likely had been subducted to the permanent pycnocline by crossing southward the Kuroshio bifurcation front and the Kuroshio Extension front, respectively. In contrast, the formation of these waters in the western regions was inactive and was significantly different from that described previously using multiyear Argo float data. West of 155 degrees E, TRMW and D-CMW were formed only in two anticyclonic eddies that had been detached from the Kuroshio Extension 1-2 years ago. L-CMW was hardly formed west of 165 degrees E, which might be related to the upstream Kuroshio Extension being in its stable state characterized by low regional eddy activity.

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Fiedler, PC, Talley LD.  2006.  Hydrography of the eastern tropical Pacific: A review. Progress in Oceanography. 69:143-180.   10.1016/j.pocean.2006.03.008   AbstractWebsite

Eastern tropical Pacific Ocean waters lie at the eastern end of a basin-wide equatorial current system, between two large subtropical gyres and at the terminus of two eastern boundary currents. Descriptions and interpretations of surface, pycnocline, intermediate and deep waters in the region are reviewed. Spatial and temporal patterns are discussed using (1) maps of surface temperature, salinity, and nutrients (phosphate, silicate, nitrate and nitrite), and thermocline and mixed layer parameters, and (2) meridional and zonal sections of temperature, salinity, potential density, oxygen, and nutrients. These patterns were derived from World Ocean Database observations by an ocean interpolation algorithm: loess-weighted observations were projected onto quadratic functions of spatial coordinates while simultaneously fitting annual and semiannual harmonics and the Southern Oscillation Index to account for interannual variability. Contrasts between the equatorial cold tongue and the eastern Pacific warm pool are evident in all the hydrographic parameters. Annual cycles and ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) variability are of similar amplitude in the eastern tropical Pacific, however, there are important regional differences in relative variability at these time scales. Unique characteristics of the eastern tropical Pacific are discussed: the strong and shallow pycnocline, the pronounced oxygen minimum layer, and the Costa Rica Dome. This paper is part of a comprehensive review of the oceanography of the eastern tropical Pacific. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Abernathey, RP, Cerovecki I, Holland PR, Newsom E, Mazlo M, Talley LD.  2016.  Water-mass transformation by sea ice in the upper branch of the Southern Ocean overturning. Nature Geoscience. 9:596-+.   10.1038/ngeo2749   AbstractWebsite

Ocean overturning circulation requires a continuous thermodynamic transformation of the buoyancy of seawater. The steeply sloping isopycnals of the Southern Ocean provide a pathway for Circumpolar Deep Water to upwell from mid depth without strong diapycnal mixing(1-3), where it is transformed directly by surface fluxes of heat and freshwater and splits into an upper and lower branch(4-6). While brine rejection from sea ice is thought to contribute to the lower branch(7), the role of sea ice in the upper branch is less well understood, partly due to a paucity of observations of sea-ice thickness and transport(8,9). Here we quantify the sea-ice freshwater flux using the Southern Ocean State Estimate, a state-of-the-art data assimilation that incorporates millions of ocean and ice observations. We then use the water-mass transformation framework(10) to compare the relative roles of atmospheric, sea-ice, and glacial freshwater fluxes, heat fluxes, and upper-ocean mixing in transforming buoyancy within the upper branch. We find that sea ice is a dominant term, with differential brine rejection and ice melt transforming upwelled Circumpolar Deep Water at a rate of similar to 22 x 10(6) m(3) s(-1). These results imply a prominent role for Antarctic sea ice in the upper branch and suggest that residual overturning and wind-driven sea-ice transport are tightly coupled.