Role of Near-Inertial Internal Waves in Subthermocline Diapycnal Mixing in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • AbstractMoored ADCP data collected in the northern Gulf of Mexico are analyzed to examine near-inertial internal waves and their contribution to subthermocline diapycnal mixing based on a finescale parameterization of deep ocean mixing. The focus of the study is on the impact of near-inertial internal waves generated by an extreme weather event—that is, Hurricane Katrina—and by month-to-month variation in weather patterns on the diapycnal mixing. The inferred subthermocline diapycnal mixing exhibits pronounced elevation in the wake of Katrina. Both the increased near-inertial (0.8–1.8f, where f is the Coriolis frequency) and superinertial (>1.8f) shear variances contribute to the elevated diapycnal mixing, but the former plays a more dominant role. The intense wind work on near-inertial motions by the hurricane is largely responsible for the energetic near-inertial shear variance. Energy transfer from near-inertial to superinertial internal waves, however, appears to play an important role in elevating the superinertial shear variance. The inferred subthermocline diapycnal mixing in the region also exhibits significant month-to-month variation with the estimated diffusivity in January 2006 about 3 times the values in November and December 2005. The subseasonal change in the diapycnal mixing mainly results from the subseasonal variation of the near-inertial wind work that causes intensification of the near-inertial shear in January 2006.

author list (cited authors)

  • Jing, Z., Chang, P., DiMarco, S. F., & Wu, L.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015 11:11 AM