University of Cambridge > > British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series > Enhanced turbulent mixing driven by wind shear alignment in the ocean

Enhanced turbulent mixing driven by wind shear alignment in the ocean

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The surface mixed layer of the ocean represents a critical interface in the Earth System across which heat, momentum and trace gases are exchanged. The processes setting the surface mixed layer depth and controlling diapycnal fluxes, at the base of the surface mixed layer, are important in determining the air-sea fluxes by influencing the sea surface temperature and pCO2. Here we report on recent work to identify and quantify the role of near-inertial oscillations in driving diapycnal mixing in temperate shelf seas, under sea ice in polar seas, and in the open ocean. A shear-spike mechanism is invoked in which the alignment of the wind vector with the shear vector can result in shear instability, with velocity microstructure estimates of diapycnal mixing indicating an enhancement of the mixing rate by 3-4 times.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

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