Characterization of the sub-mesoscale energy cascade in the Alboran Sea thermocline from spectral analysis of high-resolution MCS data.

Sallares, Valenti, Mojica, Jhon F., Biescas, Berta, Klaeschen, Dirk and Gracia, Eulalia (2016) Characterization of the sub-mesoscale energy cascade in the Alboran Sea thermocline from spectral analysis of high-resolution MCS data. Open Access Geophysical Research Letters, 43 (12). pp. 6461-6468. DOI 10.1002/2016GL069782.

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Abstract

Part of the kinetic energy that maintains ocean circulation cascades down to small scales until it is dissipated through mixing. While most steps of this downward energy cascade are well understood, an observational gap exists at horizontal scales of 103-101 m that prevents characterizing a key step in the chain: the transition from anisotropic internal wave motions to isotropic turbulence. Here we show that this observational gap can be covered using high-resolution multichannel seismic (HR-MCS) data. Spectral analysis of acoustic reflectors imaged in the Alboran Sea thermocline shows that this transition is likely caused by shear instabilities. In particular, we show that the averaged horizontal wavenumber spectra of the reflectors vertical displacements display three subranges that reproduce theoretical spectral slopes of internal waves [λx > 100 m], Kelvin-Helmholtz-type shear instabilities [100 m > λx > 33 m], and turbulence [λx < 33 m], indicating that the whole chain of events is occurring continuously and simultaneously in the surveyed area.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: Data are available under request to the first author (vsallares@icm.csic.es).
Keywords: Acoustic methods; internal waves; shear instability; turbulence; horizontal slope spectra; multichannel seismics; Alboran Sea
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1002/2016GL069782
ISSN: 0094-8276
Projects: POSEIDON, APOGEO, IMPULS, SAGAS, OCEANSEIS, FLOWS
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2016 10:59
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 15:07
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/33139

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