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Characterization of the submesoscale energy cascade in the Alboran Sea thermocline from spectral analysis of high-resolution MCS data

AutorSallarès, Valentí ; Mojica, J.F. ; Biescas, Berta ; Klaeschen, Dirk; Gràcia, Eulàlia
Fecha de publicaciónjun-2016
EditorAmerican Geophysical Union
CitaciónGeophysical Research Letters 43(12): 6461-6468 (2016)
ResumenPart of the kinetic energy that maintains ocean circulation cascades down to small scales until it is dissipated through mixing. While most steps of this downward energy cascade are well understood, an observational gap exists at horizontal scales of 103–101 m that prevents characterizing a key step in the chain: the transition from anisotropic internal wave motions to isotropic turbulence. Here we show that this observational gap can be covered using high-resolution multichannel seismic (HR-MCS) data. Spectral analysis of acoustic reflectors imaged in the Alboran Sea thermocline shows that this transition is likely caused by shear instabilities. In particular, we show that the averaged horizontal wave number spectra of the reflectors vertical displacements display three subranges that reproduce theoretical spectral slopes of internal waves (λx > 100 m), Kelvin-Helmholtz-type shear instabilities (100 m > λx > 33 m), and turbulence (λx < 33 m), indicating that the whole chain of events is occurring continuously and simultaneously in the surveyed area
Descripción8 pages, 4 figures, supporting Information https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2016GL069782
Versión del editorhttps://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2016GL069782
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1002/2016GL069782
issn: 0094-8276
e-issn: 1944-8007
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