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Direct estimate of lateral eddy diffusivity upstream of Drake Passage


Tulloch, R and Ferrari, R and Jahn, O and Klocker, A and LaCasce, J and Ledwell, JR and Marshall, J and Messias, M and Speer, K and Watson, A, Direct estimate of lateral eddy diffusivity upstream of Drake Passage, Journal of Physical Oceanography, 44, (10) pp. 2593-2616. ISSN 0022-3670 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 American Meteorological Society

DOI: doi:10.1175/JPO-D-13-0120.1


The first direct estimate of the rate at which geostrophic turbulence mixes tracers across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is presented. The estimate is computed from the spreading of a tracer released upstream of Drake Passage as part of the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES). The meridional eddy diffusivity, a measure of the rate at which the area of the tracer spreads along an isopycnal across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, is 710 6 260m2 s-1 at 1500-m depth. The estimate is based on an extrapolation of the tracer-based diffusivity using output from numerical tracers released in a one-twentieth of a degree model simulation of the circulation and turbulence in the Drake Passage region. The model is shown to reproduce the observed spreading rate of the DIMES tracer and suggests that the meridional eddy diffusivity is weak in the upper kilometer of the water column with values below 500m2 s-1 and peaks at the steering level, near 2 km, where the eddy phase speed is equal to the mean flow speed. These vertical variations are not captured by ocean models presently used for climate studies, but they significantly affect the ventilation of different water masses.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:mixing, Southern Ocean, DIMES
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Klocker, A (Dr Andreas Klocker)
ID Code:96091
Year Published:2014
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE140100076)
Web of Science® Times Cited:47
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2014-10-20
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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