Observations of the Labrador Sea eddy field.

Lilly, J. M., Rhines, P. B., Schott, Friedrich, Lavender, K., Lazier, J., Send, Uwe and D'Asaro, E. D. (2003) Observations of the Labrador Sea eddy field. Progress in Oceanography, 59 . pp. 75-176. DOI 10.1016/j.pocean.2003.08.013.

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Abstract

This paper is an observational study of small-scale coherent eddies in the Labrador Sea, a region of dense water formation thought to be of considerable importance to the North Atlantic overturning circulation. Numerical studies of deep convection emphasize coherent eddies as a mechanism for the lateral transport of heat, yet their small size has hindered observational progress. A large part of this paper is therefore devoted to developing new methods for identifying and describing coherent eddies in two observational platforms, current meter moorings and satellite altimetry. Details of the current and water mass structure of individual eddy events, as they are swept past by an advecting flow, can then be extracted from the mooring data. A transition is seen during mid-1997, with long-lived boundary current eddies dominating the central Labrador Sea year-round after this time, and convectively formed eddies similar to those seen in deep convection modeling studies apparent prior to this time. The TOPEX / Poseidon altimeter covers the Labrador Sea with a loose “net” of observations, through which coherent eddies can seem to appear and disappear. By concentrating on locating and describing anomalous events in individual altimeter tracks, a portrait of the spatial and temporal variability of the underlying eddy field can be constructed. The altimeter results reveal an annual “pulsation” of energy and of coherent eddies originating during the late fall at a particular location in the boundary current, pinpointing the time and place of the boundary current-type eddy formation. The interannual variability seen at the mooring is reproduced, but the mooring site is found to be within a localized region of greatly enhanced eddy activity. Notably lacking in both the annual cycle and interannual variability is a clear relationship between the eddies or eddy energy and the intensity of wintertime cooling. These eddy observations, as well as hydrographic evidence, suggest an active role for boundary current dynamics in shaping the energetics and water mass properties of the interior region.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Physical Oceanography; Labrador Sea; Coherent eddies; Deep convection; Wavelets; Subpolar gyre; Current meter moorings; TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-PO Physical Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.pocean.2003.08.013
ISSN: 0079-6611
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:25
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2016 13:09
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/3853

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