NSFGEO-NERC: Collaborative Research: Energy transfer between submesoscale vortices and resonantly-forced inertial motions in the northern Gulf of Mexico
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This project will use field observations from ship and numerical modeling to study circulation variability in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River plume in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The region is characterized by a strong sea breeze which leads to the flow and wave variations on relatively small spatial scales of less than 1 km. The observations will take place during two field campaigns including ship, moored, and autonomous platforms. The modeling will include both realistic and idealized models for testing the hypotheses. Two graduate students and two postdocs will participate in the research. In addition, summer research experiences in the field will be provided to 2-3 undergraduates through the TAMU Summer Research Program for Undergraduates, for which applications from underrepresented groups and from local community colleges will be encouraged. The PIs will visit local, minority-serving undergraduate institutions to give presentations on the research and engage students in the summer research program. The project is a collaboration between the US and the United Kingdom (UK) with the UK component being supported by the UK National Environmental Research Council (NERC) through an agreement with NSF.Recently theories for ocean dynamics posit that submesoscale flows interacting with near-inertial motions are important for understanding the dynamics of both phenomena. This project will test theories of energy exchange at the submesoscale by studying circulation patterns in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya river plume in the northern Gulf of Mexico using a pair of field campaigns and idealistic and realistic numerical models. Observations from ship, moorings, and autonomous platforms will be made during two field campaigns. The modeling will include a hydrostatic ROMS model and idealized, non-hydrostatic Large Eddy Simulations (LES). The objective will be to characterize, quantify, and understand the energy exchanges between balanced and unbalanced motions and the turbulent cascade that can result from the interaction. Wave-mean flow interactions in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya river plume system could enhance mixing and vertical exchange, which are important for understanding coastal hypoxia and the dispersal of pollutants in the northern Gulf of Mexico.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.