Shelf Seas Baroclinic Energy Loss: Pycnocline Mixing and Bottom Boundary Layer Dissipation

Mark E. Inall, Matt Toberman, Jeff A. Polton, Matthew R. Palmer, J. A. Mattias Green, Tom P. Rippeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Observations of turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate (urn:x-wiley:21699275:media:jgrc24670:jgrc24670-math-0001) from a range of historical shelf seas data sets are viewed from the perspective of their forcing and dissipation mechanisms: barotropic to baroclinic tidal energy conversion, and pycnocline and bottom boundary layer (BBL) dissipation. The observations are placed in their geographical context using a high resolution numerical model (NEMO AMM60) in order to compute relevant maps of the forcing (conversion). We analyze, in total, 18 shear microstructure surveys undertaken over a 17 year period from 1996 to 2013 on the North West European shelf, consisting of 3,717 vertical profiles of shear microstructure: 2,013 from free falling profilers and 1,704 from underwater gliders. A robust positive relationship is found between model-derived barotropic to baroclinic conversion, and observed pycnocline integrated urn:x-wiley:21699275:media:jgrc24670:jgrc24670-math-0002. A fitted power law relationship of approximately one-third is found, giving a simple new parameterization. We discuss reasons for this apparent power law and where the “missing” dissipation may be occurring. We conclude that internal wave related dissipation in the bottom boundary layer provides a robust explanation and is consistent with a commonly used fine-scale pycnocline dissipation parameterization.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2020JC016528
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021


  • turbulence
  • internal waves
  • diapycnal mixing


Dive into the research topics of 'Shelf Seas Baroclinic Energy Loss: Pycnocline Mixing and Bottom Boundary Layer Dissipation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this