skip to main content

Title: Moored Turbulence Measurements using Pulse-Coherent Doppler Sonar
Abstract Upper-ocean turbulence is central to the exchanges of heat, momentum, and gasses across the air/sea interface, and therefore plays a large role in weather and climate. Current understanding of upper-ocean mixing is lacking, often leading models to misrepresent mixed-layer depths and sea surface temperature. In part, progress has been limited due to the difficulty of measuring turbulence from fixed moorings which can simultaneously measure surface fluxes and upper-ocean stratification over long time periods. Here we introduce a direct wavenumber method for measuring Turbulent Kinetic Energy (TKE) dissipation rates, ϵ , from long-enduring moorings using pulse-coherent ADCPs. We discuss optimal programming of the ADCPs, a robust mechanical design for use on a mooring to maximize data return, and data processing techniques including phase-ambiguity unwrapping, spectral analysis, and a correction for instrument response. The method was used in the Salinity Processes Upper-ocean Regional Study (SPURS) to collect two year-long data sets. We find the mooring-derived TKE dissipation rates compare favorably to estimates made nearby from a microstructure shear probe mounted to a glider during its two separate two-week missions for (10 −8 ) ≤ ϵ ≤ (10 −5 ) m 2 s −3 . Periods of disagreement between turbulence estimates from the two platforms coincide with differences in vertical temperature profiles, which may indicate that barrier layers can substantially modulate upper-ocean turbulence over horizontal scales of 1-10 km. We also find that dissipation estimates from two different moorings at 12.5 m, and at 7 m are in agreement with the surface buoyancy flux during periods of strong nighttime convection, consistent with classic boundary layer theory.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1756839 2049546
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The total rate of work done on the ocean by the wind is of considerable interest for understanding global energy balances, as the energy from the wind drives ocean currents, grows surface waves, and forces vertical mixing. A large but unknown fraction of this atmospheric energy is dissipated by turbulence in the upper ocean. The focus of this work is twofold. First, we describe a framework for evaluating the vertically integrated turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) equation using measurable quantities from a surface mooring, showing the connection to the atmospheric, mean oceanic, and wave energy. Second, we use this framework to evaluate turbulent energetics in the mixed layer using 10 months of mooring data. This evaluation is made possible by recent advances in estimating TKE dissipation rates from long‐enduring moorings. We find that surface fluxes are balanced by TKE dissipation rates in the mixed layer to within a factor of two.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Multiyear turbulence measurements from oceanographic moorings in equatorial Atlantic and Pacific cold tongues reveal similarities in deep cycle turbulence (DCT) beneath the mixed layer (ML) and above the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) core. Diurnal composites of turbulence kinetic energy dissipation rate,ϵ, clearly show the diurnal cycles of turbulence beneath the ML in both cold tongues. Despite differences in surface forcing, EUC strength and core depth DCT occurs, and is consistent in amplitude and timing, at all three sites. Time‐mean values ofϵat 30 m depth are nearly identical at all three sites. Variations of averaged values ofϵin the deep cycle layer below 30 m range to a factor of 10 between sites. A proposed scaling in depth that isolates the deep cycle layers and ofϵby the product of wind stress and current shear collapses vertical profiles at all sites to within a factor of 2.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Sunlight warms sea surface temperature (SST) under calm winds, increasing atmospheric surface buoyancy flux, turbulence, and mixed layer (ML) depth in the afternoon. The diurnal range of SST exceeded 1°C for 24% of days in the central tropical Indian Ocean during the Dynamics of the Madden Julian Oscillation experiment in October‐December 2011. Doppler lidar shows enhancement of the strength and height of convective turbulence in the atmospheric ML over warm SST in the afternoon. The turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rate of the marine atmospheric ML scales with surface buoyancy flux like previous measurements of convective MLs. The time of enhanced ML TKE dissipation rate is out of phase with the buoyancy flux generated by nocturnal net radiative cooling of the atmosphere. Diurnal atmospheric convective turbulence over the ocean mixes moisture from the ocean to the lifting condensation level and forms afternoon clouds.

    more » « less
  4. This study analyzes high-resolution ship data collected in the Gulf of Mexico during the Lagrangian Submesoscale Experiment (LASER) from January to February 2016 to produce the first reported measurements of dissipative heating in the explicitly nonhurricane atmospheric surface layer. Although typically computed from theory as a function of wind speed cubed, the dissipative heating directly estimated via the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rate is also presented. The dissipative heating magnitude agreed with a previous study that estimated the dissipative heating in the hurricane boundary layer using in situ aircraft data. Our observations that the 10-m neutral drag coefficient parameterized using TKE dissipation rate approaches zero slope as wind increases suggests that TKE dissipation and dissipative heating are constrained to a physical limit. Both surface-layer stability and sea state were observed to be important conditions influencing dissipative heating, with the stability determined via TKE budget terms and the sea state determined via wave steepness and age using direct shipboard measurements. Momentum and enthalpy fluxes used in the TKE budget are determined using the eddy-correlation method. It is found that the TKE dissipation rate and the dissipative heating are largest in a nonneutral atmospheric surface layer with a sea surface comprising steep wind sea and slow swell waves at a given surface wind speed, whereas the ratio of dissipative heating to enthalpy fluxes is largest in near-neutral stability where the turbulent vertical velocities are near zero.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Data from an air–sea interaction tower are used to close the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget in the wave-affected surface layer of the upper ocean. Under energetic wind forcing with active wave breaking, the dominant balance is between the dissipation rate of TKE and the downward convergence in vertical energy flux. The downward energy flux is driven by pressure work, and the TKE transport is upward, opposite to the downgradient assumption in most turbulence closure models. The sign and the relative magnitude of these energy fluxes are hypothesized to be driven by an interaction between the vertical velocity of Langmuir circulation (LC) and the kinetic energy and pressure of wave groups, which is the result of small-scale wave–current interaction. Consistent with previous modeling studies, the data suggest that the horizontal velocity anomaly associated with LC refracts wave energy away from downwelling regions and into upwelling regions, resulting in negative covariance between the vertical velocity of LC and the pressure anomaly associated with the wave groups. The asymmetry between downward pressure work and upward TKE flux is explained by the Bernoulli response of the sea surface, which results in groups of waves having a larger pressure anomaly than the corresponding kinetic energy anomaly, consistent with group-bound long-wave theory.

    more » « less