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Lidar for Lateral Mixing (LATMIX)

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Annual rept.

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Our long-term goal is to better understand lateral mixing processes in the ocean on scales of 10 m to 10 km, i.e., the submesoscale. We aim to understand the underlying mechanisms and forcing, as well as the temporal, spatial, and scale variability of such mixing. The research will contribute to fundamental knowledge of ocean dynamics at these scales, and to efforts to properly parameterize sub-grid scale mixing and stirring in numerical models. Ultimately our research will also enhance modeling and understanding of upper ocean ecosystems, since the flow of nutrients and plankton depends on stirring and mixing at these scales. One objective of our work is to determine the extent to which shear dispersion -- the interaction of vertical mixing with vertical shear -- can explain lateral dispersion at scales of 10 m to 10 km. A second objective is to determine whether slow but persistent vortices enhance the stirring attributable to shear dispersion. We also share the overall objectives of the Lateral Mixing DRI to try to determine the extent to which submesoscale stirring is driven by a cascade of energy down in wavelength from the mesoscale versus a propagation of energy upwards from small mixing events e.g. via generation of vortices. A key technical goal of our work is to develop the use of airborne LIDAR surveys of evolving dye experiments as a tool for studying submesoscale lateral dispersion. This annual report marks the end of year 3 of a 5 year study as part of the Scalable Lateral Mixing and Coherent Turbulence a.k.a., LatMix DRI. The main effort of the present work is a collaboration between J. Ledwell and E. Terray WHOI, M. Sundermeyer UMass Dartmouth, and B. Concannon NAVAIR.

Subject Categories:

  • Physical and Dynamic Oceanography

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