On the spatial and temporal distribution of near-inertial energy in the Southern Ocean

Willi Rath, Richard J. Greatbatch, Xiaoming Zhai

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16 Citations (Scopus)


We use an eddying realistic primitive-equation model of the Southern Ocean to examine the spatial and temporal distribution of near-inertial wind-power input (WPI) and near-inertial energy (NIE) in the Southern Ocean. We find that the modeled near-inertial WPI is almost proportional to inertial wind-stress variance (IWSV), while the modeled NIE is modulated by the inverse of the mixed-layer depth. We go on to assess recent decadal trends of near-inertial WPI from trends of IWSV based on reanalysis wind stress. Averaged over the Southern Ocean, annual-mean IWSV is found to have increased by 16% over the years 1979–2011. Part of the increase of IWSV is found to be related to the positive trend of the Southern-Annular Mode over the same period. Finally, we show that there are horizontal local maxima of NIE at depth that are almost exclusively associated with anticyclonic eddies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-376
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Oceans
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • near-inertial energy
  • wind-power input
  • wind stress
  • recent decadal trends

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