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Title: Resolving the paradox of oceanic large-scale balance and small-scale mixing

Abstract

In this study, a puzzle of oceanic dynamics is the contrast between the observed geostrophic balance, involving gravity, pressure gradient and Coriolis forces, and the necessary turbulent transport: in the former case, energy flows to large scales, leading to spectral condensation, whereas in the latter it is transferred to small scales, where dissipation prevails. The known bi-directional constant-flux energy cascade maintaining both geostrophic balance and mixing tends towards flux equilibration as turbulence strengthens, contradicting models and recent observations which find a dominant large-scale flux. Analyzing a large ensemble of high resolution direct numerical simulations of the Boussinesq equations in the presence of rotation and no salinity, we show that the ratio of the dual energy flux to large and to small scales agrees with observations, and we predict that it scales with the inverse of the Froude and Rossby numbers when stratification is (realistically) stronger than rotation. In addition, we show that the kinetic and potential energies separately undergo a bi-directional transfer to larger and smaller scale. Altogether, this allows for small-scale mixing which drives the global oceanic circulation and will thus potentially lead to more accurate modeling of climate dynamics.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States); Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States). Space Sciences Lab.; Institute for Chemical-Physical Processes—IPCF/CNR, Rende (Italy)
  2. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States). Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics; National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). National Center for Computational Sciences
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1265351
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Physical Review Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 114; Journal Issue: 11; Journal ID: ISSN 0031-9007
Publisher:
American Physical Society (APS)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES

Citation Formats

Marino, Raffaele, Pouquet, Annick, and Rosenberg, D. Resolving the paradox of oceanic large-scale balance and small-scale mixing. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.114504.
Marino, Raffaele, Pouquet, Annick, & Rosenberg, D. Resolving the paradox of oceanic large-scale balance and small-scale mixing. United States. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.114504.
Marino, Raffaele, Pouquet, Annick, and Rosenberg, D. Wed . "Resolving the paradox of oceanic large-scale balance and small-scale mixing". United States. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.114504.
@article{osti_1265351,
title = {Resolving the paradox of oceanic large-scale balance and small-scale mixing},
author = {Marino, Raffaele and Pouquet, Annick and Rosenberg, D.},
abstractNote = {In this study, a puzzle of oceanic dynamics is the contrast between the observed geostrophic balance, involving gravity, pressure gradient and Coriolis forces, and the necessary turbulent transport: in the former case, energy flows to large scales, leading to spectral condensation, whereas in the latter it is transferred to small scales, where dissipation prevails. The known bi-directional constant-flux energy cascade maintaining both geostrophic balance and mixing tends towards flux equilibration as turbulence strengthens, contradicting models and recent observations which find a dominant large-scale flux. Analyzing a large ensemble of high resolution direct numerical simulations of the Boussinesq equations in the presence of rotation and no salinity, we show that the ratio of the dual energy flux to large and to small scales agrees with observations, and we predict that it scales with the inverse of the Froude and Rossby numbers when stratification is (realistically) stronger than rotation. In addition, we show that the kinetic and potential energies separately undergo a bi-directional transfer to larger and smaller scale. Altogether, this allows for small-scale mixing which drives the global oceanic circulation and will thus potentially lead to more accurate modeling of climate dynamics.},
doi = {10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.114504},
journal = {Physical Review Letters},
issn = {0031-9007},
number = 11,
volume = 114,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {3}
}

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