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  1. Abstract Direct numerical simulations are performed to compare the evolution of turbulent stratified shear layers with different density gradient profiles at a high Reynolds number. The density profiles include uniform stratification, two-layer hyperbolic tangent profile and a composite of these two profiles. All profiles have the same initial bulk Richardson number ( $$Ri_{b,0}$$ R i b , 0 ); however, the minimum gradient Richardson number and the distribution of density gradient across the shear layer are varied among the cases. The objective of the study is to provide a comparative analysis of the evolution of the shear layers in term of shear layer growth, turbulent kinetic energy as well as the mixing efficiency and its parameterization. The evolution of the shear layers in all cases shows the development of Kelvin–Helmholtz billows, the transition to turbulence by secondary instabilities followed by the decay of turbulence. Comparison among the cases reveals that the amount of turbulent mixing varies with the density gradient distribution inside the shear layer. The minimum gradient Richardson number and the initial bulk Richardson number do not correlate well with the integrated TKE production, dissipation and buoyancy flux. The bulk mixing efficiency for fixed $$Ri_{b,0}$$ R i b ,more »0 is found to be highest in the case with two-layer density profile and lowest in the case with uniform stratification. However, the parameterizations of the flux coefficient based on buoyancy Reynolds number and the ratio of Ozmidov and Ellison scales show similar scaling in all cases.« less
  2. Direct numerical simulations are performed to investigate a stratified shear layer at high Reynolds number ( $Re$ ) in a study where the Richardson number ( $Ri$ ) is varied among cases. Unlike previous work on a two-layer configuration in which the shear layer resides between two layers with constant density, an unbounded fluid with uniform stratification is considered here. The evolution of the shear layer includes a primary Kelvin–Helmholtz shear instability followed by a wide range of secondary shear and convective instabilities, similar to the two-layer configuration. During transition to turbulence, the shear layers at low $Ri$ exhibit a period of thickness contraction (not observed at lower $Re$ ) when the momentum and buoyancy fluxes are counter-gradient. The behaviour in the turbulent regime is significantly different from the case with a two-layer density profile. The transition layers, which are zones with elevated shear and stratification that form at the shear-layer edges, are stronger and also able to support a significant internal wave flux. After the shear layer becomes turbulent, mixing in the transition layers is shown to be more efficient than that which develops in the centre of the shear layer. Overall, the cumulative mixing efficiency ( $E^C$ )more »is larger than the often assumed value of 1/6. Also, $E^C$ is found to be smaller than that in the two-layer configuration at moderate Ri . It is relatively less sensitive to background stratification, exhibiting little variation for $0.08 \leqslant Ri \leqslant 0.2$ . The dependence of mixing efficiency on buoyancy Reynolds number during the turbulence phase is qualitatively similar to homogeneous sheared turbulence.« less
  3. Abstract Factors thought to influence deep cycle turbulence in the equatorial Pacific are examined statistically for their predictive capacity using a 13-year moored record that includes microstructure measurements of the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate. Wind stress and mean current shear are found to be most predictive of the dissipation rate. Those variables, together with the solar buoyancy flux and the diurnal mixed layer thickness, are combined to make a pair of useful parameterizations. The uncertainty in these predictions is typically 50% greater than the uncertainty in present-day in situ measurements. To illustrate the use of these parameterizations, the record of deep cycle turbulence, measured directly since 2005, is extended back to 1990 based on historical mooring data. The extended record is used to refine our understanding of the seasonal variation of deep cycle turbulence.