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Friction and diapycnal mixing at a slope: boundary control of potential vorticity


Benthuysen, J and Thomas, LN, Friction and diapycnal mixing at a slope: boundary control of potential vorticity, Journal of Physical Oceanography, 42, (9) pp. 1509-1523. ISSN 0022-3670 (2012) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2012 American Meteorological Society

DOI: doi:10.1175/JPO-D-11-0130.1


Although atmospheric forcing by wind stress or buoyancy flux is known to change the oceanís potential vorticity (PV) at the surface, less is understood about PV modification in the bottom boundary layer. The adjustment of a geostrophic current over a sloped bottom in a stratified ocean generates PV sources and sinks through friction and diapycnal mixing. The time-dependent problem is solved analytically for a no-slip boundary condition, and scalings are identified for the change in PV that arises during the adjustment to steady state. Numerical experiments are run to test the scalings with different turbulent closure schemes. The key parameters that control whether PV is injected into or extracted from the fluid are the direction of the geostrophic current and the ratio of its initial speed to its steady-state speed. When the current is in the direction of Kelvin wave propagation, downslope Ekman flow advects lighter water under denser water, driving diabatic mixing and extracting PV. For a current in the opposite direction, Ekman advection tends to restratify the bottom boundary layer and increase the PV. Mixing near the bottom counteracts this restratification, however, and an increase in PV will only occur for current speeds exceeding a critical value. Consequently, the change in PV is asymmetric for currents of the opposite sign but the same speed, with a bias toward PV removal. In the limit of a large speed ratio, the change in PV is independent of diapycnal mixing.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:abyssal circulation, mixing, potential vorticity, topographic effects, friction, potential vorticity
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Oceanic processes (excl. in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean)
UTAS Author:Benthuysen, J (Dr Jessica Benthuysen)
ID Code:118979
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:32
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2017-07-25
Last Modified:2017-10-24
Downloads:141 View Download Statistics

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