Shear at the Base of the Oceanic Mixed Layer Generated by Wind Shear Alignment

Brannigan, Liam; Lenn, Yueng-Djern; Rippeth, Tom P.; McDonagh, Elaine; Chereskin, Teresa K.; Sprintall, Janet. 2013 Shear at the Base of the Oceanic Mixed Layer Generated by Wind Shear Alignment. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 43 (8). 1798-1810.

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Observations are used to evaluate a simple theoretical model for the generation of near-inertial shear spikes at the base of the open ocean mixed layer when the upper ocean displays a two-layer structure. The model predicts that large changes in shear squared can be produced by the alignment of the wind and shear vectors. A climatology of stratification and shear variance in Drake Passage is presented, which shows that these assumptions are most applicable to summer, fall, and spring but are not highly applicable to winter. Temperature, salinity, and velocity data from a high spatial resolution cruise in Drake Passage show that the model does not predict all large changes in shear variance; the model is most effective at predicting changes in shear squared when it arises owing to near-inertial wind-driven currents without requiring a rotating resonant wind stress. The model is also more effective where there is a uniform mixed layer above a strongly stratified transition layer. Rotary spectral and statistical analysis of an additional 242 Drake Passage transects from 1999 to 2011 confirmed the presence of this shear-spiking mechanism, particularly in summer, spring, and fall when stratification is stronger.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0022-3670
Additional Keywords: Southern Ocean, Atmosphere-ocean interaction, Diapycnal mixing, Shear structure/flows, Oceanic mixed layer, Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities
Date made live: 16 Sep 2013 14:21 +0 (UTC)

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