The physical oceanography of Jones Bank: A mixing hotspot in the Celtic Sea

Matthew R. Palmer, Mark E. Inall, Jonathan Sharples

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

New measurements are presented of the currents and hydrography at Jones Bank in the Celtic Sea. These measurements, collected during the summer of 2008, identify a highly energetic internal wavefield generated by the local interaction of seasonally stratified flow with topography. Observations close to the bank crest reveal internal waves of up to 40 m amplitude; approaching 50% of the local water depth. These waves occur during spring periods and are predominantly associated with off-bank tidal flow. We provide evidence that these waves are the result of hydraulic control of the tidal currents which result in supercritical flow in the bottom mixed layer (bml) on the upper slopes of the bank. The waning tide produces a transition from super to subcritical flow, identifiable as a regular hydraulic jump on the bank slope. Microstructure measurements identify a turbulent ‘bore’ associated with such jumps that increases bml turbulence by several orders of magnitude and produces a regular burst of enhanced mixing at the base of the ever-present thermocline. Additional mixing in the surface mixed layer is provided during gale force conditions during the first of the two spring tides observed, occurring at the start of our three-week measurement period. The average thermocline mixing rate during stormy spring tide conditions is 1.9 (±1.0, 95%) × 10−3 m2 s−1, driven by both surface mixing and hydraulic jumps. During the later calm spring period the average thermocline mixing rate is 3.3 (±1.7) × 10−4 m2 s−1, dominated by jump associated events. By comparison, the intervening neap tide period produces no hydraulic jumps and is characterised by relatively calm weather. A strong shear layer is however maintained during this ‘quiet’ period sufficient to enhance thermocline turbulence by a factor 1000 above background levels. A short lived peak in thermocline turbulence during the neap period produces diapycnal mixing as high as 1.6 × 10−2 m2 s−1 however a more representative ‘background’ thermocline mixing rate is 2.8 (±0.6) × 10−5 m2 s−1.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-24
Number of pages16
JournalProgress in Oceanography
Volume117
Issue numberSI
Early online date26 Jun 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013

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