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Vorticity and vertical circulation at an ocean front
Pollard, R.T.; Regier, L.A. (1992). Vorticity and vertical circulation at an ocean front. J. Phys. Oceanogr. 22(6): 609-625
In: Journal of Physical Oceanography. American Meteorological Society: Boston, etc.,. ISSN 0022-3670, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Keywords
    Circulation; Geostrophic transport; Mixed layer; Oceanic fronts; Vertical mixing; Vorticity; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Pollard, R.T.
  • Regier, L.A.

Abstract
    Density and velocity data with 4-km horizontal resolution from a survey of a front during FASINEX (Frontal Air-Sea Interaction Experiment) are combined to describe the structure of the top 300 m of the ocean. The geostrophic velocity field is derived and is used to examine the relative importance of stratification, relative vorticity, and twisting terms in Ertel's potential vorticity Q. Tenfold isopycnic changes in Q are found across a horizontal scale of only 10 km. These changes are confined to isopycnals that outcrop from the seasonal thermocline into the mixed layer. The ageostrophic velocity field is quantified by solution of the omega equation, and vertical velocities of up to 40 m/day are found. Small (40 km) surface-trapped (top 200 m) eddies are found to play a crucial role in the transport and effective diffusion of properties across the thermocline out of the mixed layer.

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