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  1. Abstract

    Several years of moored turbulence measurements fromχpods at three sites in the equatorial cold tongues of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans yield new insights into proxy estimates of turbulence that specifically target the cold tongues. They also reveal previously unknown wind dependencies of diurnally varying turbulence in the near-critical stratified shear layers beneath the mixed layer and above the core of the Equatorial Undercurrent that we have come to understand as deep cycle (DC) turbulence. Isolated by the mixed layer above, the DC layer is only indirectly linked to surface forcing. Yet, it varies diurnally in concert with daily changes in heating/cooling. Diurnal composites computed from 10-min averaged data at fixedχpod depths show that transitions from daytime to nighttime mixing regimes are increasingly delayed with weakening wind stressτ. These transitions are also delayed with respect to depth such that they follow a descent rate of roughly 6 m h−1, independent ofτ. We hypothesize that this wind-dependent delay is a direct result of wind-dependent diurnal warm layer deepening, which acts as the trigger to DC layer instability by bringing shear from the surface downward but at rates much slower than 6 m h−1. This delay in initiation of DC layer instability contributes to a reduction in daily averaged values of turbulence dissipation. Both the absence of descending turbulence in the sheared DC layer prior to arrival of the diurnal warm layer shear and the magnitude of the subsequent descent rate after arrival are roughly predicted by laboratory experiments on entrainment in stratified shear flows.

    Significance Statement

    Only recently have long time series measurements of ocean turbulence been available anywhere. Important sites for these measurements are the equatorial cold tongues where the nature of upper-ocean turbulence differs from that in most of the world’s oceans and where heat uptake from the atmosphere is concentrated. Critical to heat transported downward from the mixed layer is the diurnally varying deep cycle of turbulence below the mixed layer and above the core of the Equatorial Undercurrent. Even though this layer does not directly contact the surface, here we show the influence of the surface winds on both the magnitude of the deep cycle turbulence and the timing of its descent into the depths below.

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  2. Abstract In low winds (≲2 m s −1 ), diurnal warm layers form but shear in the near-surface jet is too weak to generate shear instability and mixing. In high winds (≳8ms −1 ), surface heat is rapidly mixed downward and diurnal warm layers do not form. Under moderate winds of 3–5 m s −1 , the jet persists for several hours in a state that is susceptible to shear instability. We observe low Richardson numbers of Ri ≈ 0.1 in the top 2 m between 10:00 and 16:00 local time (from 4 h after sunrise to 2 h before sunset). Despite Ri being well below the Ri = 1/4 threshold, instabilities do not grow quickly, nor do they overturn. The stabilizing influence of the sea surface limits growth, a result demonstrated by both linear stability analysis and two-dimensional simulations initialized from observed profiles. In some cases, growth rates are sufficiently small (≪1 h −1 ) that mixing is not expected even though Ri < 1/4. This changes around 16:00–17:00. Thereafter, convective cooling causes the region of unstable flow to move downward, away from the surface. This allows shear instabilities to grow an order of magnitude faster and mix effectively. We corroborate the overall observed diurnal cycle of instability with a freely evolving, two-dimensional simulation that is initialized from rest before sunrise. 
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  3. 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.

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