Tidal mixing processes amid small-scale, deep-ocean topography

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Abstract

The nature of tide-topography interaction reflects the topographic scales experienced by water parcels during their tidal excursions. In the deep ocean these scales are typically subkilometer, yet direct observations of tidal processes on such scales are lacking. At one site, a saddle amid steep and complex Mid-Atlantic Ridge topography, observations reveal tidally pulsed, bottom-trapped fronts, overflows, and lee waves in response to a tide combined with a mean flow of similar amplitude. The tidal pulsing of the fronts and overflows was only evident locally, and their phase became unpredictable over scales of hundreds of meters. Enhanced turbulence in a 100–200 m thick bottom boundary layer had an estimated dissipation rate of 2.6 × 10−2 W m−2, exceeding the large-scale average of tidal dissipation in mid-ocean ridge environments but by less than an order of magnitude. This site was not a dissipation “hotspot,” and the processes observed could provide widely distributed mixing to the meridional overturning circulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-491
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • tidal mixing
  • deep ocean
  • gravity currents
  • lee waves
  • overflows
  • meridional overturning circulation

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