Greenhouse warming reduces global energy conversion into oceanic lee waves

Zhibin Yang, Zhao Jing, Xiaoming Zhai

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Oceanic lee waves play an important role in dissipating wind-driven ocean circulations and powering turbulent diapycnal mixing. Here we investigate impacts of the greenhouse warming on global energy conversion into lee waves using a linear theory of lee wave generation and output from a high-resolution (0.1° for the ocean) coupled global climate model. The global energy conversion rate into lee waves under the historical (1930s) climate condition is estimated to be 193.0 ± 3.0 GW. Under the high carbon emission scenario, this conversion rate is projected to decrease by about 20% by the end of 21st century, due to weakened bottom large-scale mean flows, mesoscale eddies and stratification. The decrease of the conversion rate is widespread and particularly pronounced in the Gulf Stream and Drake Passage.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023GL104467
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number16
Early online date12 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2023


  • coupled global climate model
  • greenhouse warming
  • linear theory
  • oceanic lee waves

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