The contribution of striations to the eddy energy budget and mixing: diagnostic frameworks, and results in a quasi-geostrophic barotropic system with mean flow

Citation:
Chen, R, Flierl G.  2015.  The contribution of striations to the eddy energy budget and mixing: diagnostic frameworks, and results in a quasi-geostrophic barotropic system with mean flow. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 45(8):2095-2113.

Abstract:

Low-frequency oceanic motions have banded structures termed “striations.” Since these striations embedded in large-scale gyre flows can have large amplitudes, the authors investigated the effect of mean flow on their directions as well as their contribution to energetics and mixing using a β-plane, barotropic, quasigeostrophic ocean model. In spite of the model simplicity, striations are always found to exist regardless of the imposed barotropic mean flow. However, their properties are sensitive to the mean flow. Rhines jets move with the mean flow and are not necessarily striations. If the meridional component of the mean flow is large, Rhines jets become high-frequency motions; low-frequency striations still exist, but they are nonzonal, have small magnitudes, and contribute little to energetics and mixing. Otherwise, striations are zonal, dominated by Rhines jets, and contribute significantly to energetics and mixing. This study extends the theory of β-plane, barotropic turbulence, driven by white noise forcing at small scales, to include the effect of a constant mean flow. Theories developed in this study, based upon the Galilean invariance property, illustrate that the barotropic mean flow has no effect on total mixing rates, but does affect the energy cascades in the frequency domain. Diagnostic frameworks developed here can be useful to quantify the striations’ contribution to energetics and mixing in the ocean and more realistic models. A novel diagnostic formula is applied to estimating eddy diffusivities.

DOI:

10.1175/JPO-D-14-0199.1