What is it about?

The ocean is replete with turbulent eddies that are highly efficient in mixing oceanic tracers (e.g., nutrients). Across continental margins, turbulent eddies drive the exchanges between shelf seas and open ocean, which modulate the coastal water properties and sea level, upon which human habitation depends the most. This work aims to understand the impact of eddies on shelf-ocean exchanges and predict the efficiency of eddy mixing.

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Why is it important?

Mesoscale eddies play a crucial role in the Earth's climate system by transporting and mixing large amounts of heat, salt, carbon, and other climatologically crucial tracers throughout the global ocean. Over continental slopes, these eddies mediate the exchanges between shelf seas and open ocean, which aid the water mass transformations, shape the marine ecosystems, and regulate the global-scale circulations. Understanding the impact of eddies on shelf-ocean exchanges in a changing climate is therefore critical, and would typically rely on predictive ocean climate models. However, owing to limited computer powers, even state-of-the-art ocean climate models must adopt a grid spacing that is too coarse to resolve turbulent eddies across continental margins. Instead, these models rely on parameterization schemes that infer eddy effects from the large-scale, explicitly resolved flow properties. This work provides a basis upon which a parameterization scheme for eddy tracer fluxes across both continental margins and open ocean environments can be devised.

Perspectives

There are still plenty of unknowns on ocean eddies and I hope this work can advance our understanding.

Huaiyu WEI
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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This page is a summary of: Full‐Depth Scalings for Isopycnal Eddy Mixing Across Continental Slopes Under Upwelling‐Favorable Winds, Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, June 2021, American Geophysical Union (AGU), DOI: 10.1029/2021ms002498.
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