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Title: Topographic controlled forcing of salt flow: Three-dimensional models of an active salt system, Canyonlands, Utah: Topographic Forcing of Salt Flow
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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
710 to 733
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    From 2014 through 2016 we instrumented the ~80-km-wide Norske Trough near 78°N latitude that cuts across the 250-km-wide shelf from Fram Strait to the coast. Our measurements resolve a ~10-km-wide bottom-intensified jet that carries 0.27 ± 0.06 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of warm Atlantic water from Fram Strait toward the glaciers off northeast Greenland. Mean shoreward flows along the steep canyon walls reach 0.1 m s−1 about 50 m above the bottom in 400-m-deep water. The same bottom-intensified vertical structure emerges as the first dominant empirical orthogonal function that explains about 70%–80% of the variance at individual mooring locations. We interpret the current variability as remotely forced wave motions that arrive at our sensor array with periodicities longer than 6 days. Coherent motions with a period near 20 days emerge in our array as a dispersive topographic Rossby wave that propagates its energy along the sloping canyon toward the coast with a group speed of about 63 km day−1. Amplitudes of wave currents reach 0.1 m s−1 in the winter of 2015/16. The wave is likely generated by Ekman pumping over the shelfbreak where sea ice is always mobile. More than 40% of the along-slope oceanmore »current variance near the bottom of the canyon correlates with vertical Ekman pumping velocities 180 km away. In contrast, the impact of local winds on the observed current fluctuations is negligible. Dynamics appear linear and Rossby wave motions merely modulate the mean flow.

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  2. Observations on the lee of a topographic ridge show that the turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rate due to shear instabilities is three orders of magnitude higher than the typical value in the open ocean. Laboratory-scale studies at low Reynolds number suggest that high turbulent dissipation occurs primarily within the core region of shear instabilities. However, field-scale studies indicate that high turbulence is mainly populated along the braids of shear instabilities. In this study, a high-resolution, resolving the Ozmidov-scale, non-hydrostatic model with Large Eddy Simulation (LES) turbulent closure is applied to investigate dominant mechanisms that control the spatial and temporal scales of shear instabilities and resulting mixing in stratified shear flow at high Reynolds number. The simulated density variance dissipation rate is elevated in the cusp-like bands of shear instabilities with a specific period, consistent with the acoustic backscatter taken by shipboard echo sounder. The vertical length scale of each cusp-like band is nearly half of the vertical length scale of the internal lee wave. However, it is consistent with instabilities originating from a shear layer based on linear stability theory. The model results indicate that the length scale and/or the period of shear instabilities are the key parameters tomore »the mixing enhancement that increases with lateral Froude number Fr L , i.e. stronger shear and/or steeper ridge.« less