Dependence of energy flux from the wind to surface inertial currents on the scale of atmospheric motions

Dependence of energy flux from the wind to surface inertial currents on the scale of atmospheric... AbstractAtmospheric features such as translating cold fronts and small lows with horizontal scales of about 100 km are traditionally thought to be most important in exciting near-inertial motions in the ocean. However, recent studies suggest that a significant fraction of energy flux from the wind to surface inertial currents may be supplied by atmospheric systems of larger scales. Here the dependence of this energy flux on the scale of atmospheric motions is investigated using a high-resolution atmosphere reanalysis product and a slab model. It is found that mesoscale atmospheric systems with scales less than 1000 km are responsible for almost all the energy flux from the wind to near-inertial motions in mid-latitude North Atlantic and North Pacific. Transient atmospheric features with scales of ~100 km contribute significantly to this wind energy flux, but they are not as dominant as traditionally thought. Owing to the nonlinear nature of the stress law, energy flux from mesoscale atmospheric systems depends critically on the existence of the background, larger-scale wind field. Finally, accounting for relative motions in the stress calculation reduces the net wind energy flux to near-inertial motions by about one-fifth. Mesoscale atmospheric systems are found to be responsible for the majority of this relative wind damping effect. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Physical Oceanography American Meteorological Society

Dependence of energy flux from the wind to surface inertial currents on the scale of atmospheric motions

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Publisher
American Meteorological Society
Copyright
Copyright © American Meteorological Society
ISSN
1520-0485
D.O.I.
10.1175/JPO-D-17-0073.1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractAtmospheric features such as translating cold fronts and small lows with horizontal scales of about 100 km are traditionally thought to be most important in exciting near-inertial motions in the ocean. However, recent studies suggest that a significant fraction of energy flux from the wind to surface inertial currents may be supplied by atmospheric systems of larger scales. Here the dependence of this energy flux on the scale of atmospheric motions is investigated using a high-resolution atmosphere reanalysis product and a slab model. It is found that mesoscale atmospheric systems with scales less than 1000 km are responsible for almost all the energy flux from the wind to near-inertial motions in mid-latitude North Atlantic and North Pacific. Transient atmospheric features with scales of ~100 km contribute significantly to this wind energy flux, but they are not as dominant as traditionally thought. Owing to the nonlinear nature of the stress law, energy flux from mesoscale atmospheric systems depends critically on the existence of the background, larger-scale wind field. Finally, accounting for relative motions in the stress calculation reduces the net wind energy flux to near-inertial motions by about one-fifth. Mesoscale atmospheric systems are found to be responsible for the majority of this relative wind damping effect.

Journal

Journal of Physical OceanographyAmerican Meteorological Society

Published: Sep 6, 2017

References

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