skip to main content


Title: Quantifying residual, eddy, and mean flow effects on mixing in an idealized circumpolar current

Meridional diffusivity is assessed in this paper for a baroclinically unstable jet in a high-latitudeIdealized Circumpolar Current (ICC) using the Model for Prediction Across Scales-Ocean (MPAS-O) and the online Lagrangian In-situ Global High-performance particle Tracking (LIGHT) diagnostic via space-time dispersion of particle clusters over 120 monthly realizations of O(10 6) particles on 11 potential density surfaces. Diffusivity in the jet reaches values of O(6000 m 2 s -1) and is largest near the critical layer supporting mixing suppression and critical layer theory. Values in the vicinity of the shelf break are suppressed to O(100 m 2 s -1) due to the presence of westward slope front currents. Diffusivity attenuates less rapidly with depth in the jet than both eddy velocity and kinetic energy scalings would suggest. Removal of the mean flow via high-pass filtering shifts the nonlinear parameter (ratio of the eddy velocity to eddy phase speed) into the linear wave regime by increasing the eddy phase speed via the depth-mean flow. Low-pass filtering, in contrast, quantifies the effect of mean shear. Diffusivity is decomposed into mean flow shear, linear waves, and the residual nonhomogeneous turbulence components, where turbulence dominates and eddy-produced filamentation strained by background mean shear enhances mixing,more » accounting for ≥ 80% of the total diffusivity relative to mean shear [O(100 m 2 s -1)], linear waves [O(1000 m 2 s -1)], and undecomposed full diffusivity [O(6000 m 2 s -1)]. Finally, diffusivity parameterizations accounting for both the nonhomogeneous turbulence residual and depth variability are needed.« less
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0022-3670
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Oceanography
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 2017; Journal Issue: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 0022-3670
American Meteorological Society
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1360702