John Marshall

Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Oceanography, MIT

Eddy modulation of air-sea interaction and convection

Eddy modulation of air-sea interaction and convection.

(Cerovecki, Ivana and Marshall, John), JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHY, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. pages, 2008.


Eddy modulation of the air-sea interaction and convection that occurs in the process of mode water formation is analyzed in simulations of a baroclinically unstable wind- and buoyancy-driven jet. The watermass transformation analysis of Walin is used to estimate the formation rate of mode water and to characterize the role of eddies in that process. It is found that diabatic eddy heat flux divergences in the mixed layer are comparable in magnitude, but of opposite sign, to the surface air-sea heat flux and largely cancel the direct effect of buoyancy loss to the atmosphere. The calculations suggest that mode water formation estimates based on climatological air-sea heat flux data and outcrops, which do not fully resolve ocean eddies, may neglect a large opposing term in the heat budget and are thus likely to significantly overestimate true formation rates. In Walin’s watermass transformation framework, this manifests itself as a sensitivity of formation rate estimates to the averaging period over which the outcrops and air-sea fluxes are subjected. The key processes are described in terms of a transformed Eulerian-mean formalism in which eddy-induced mean flow tends to cancel the Eulerian-mean flow, resulting in weaker residual mean flow, subduction, and mode water formation rates.

doi = 10.1175/2007JPO3545.1