Work done by atmospheric winds on mesoscale ocean eddies

Chi Xu, Xiaoming Zhai (Lead Author), Xiao-Dong Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous in the ocean and dominate the ocean's kinetic energy. However, physical processes influencing ocean eddy energy remains poorly understood. Mesoscale ocean eddy-wind interaction potentially provides an energy flux into or out of the eddy field, but its effect on ocean eddies has not yet been determined. Here we examine work done by atmospheric winds on more than 1,200,000 mesoscale eddies identified from satellite altimetry data, and show that atmospheric winds significantly damp mesoscale ocean eddies, particularly in the energetic western boundary current regions and the Southern Ocean. Furthermore, the large-scale wind stress curl is found to on average systematically inject kinetic energy into anticyclonic (cyclonic) eddies in the subtropical (subpolar) gyres, while mechanically damps anticyclonic (cyclonic) eddies in the subpolar (subtropical) gyres.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12174–12180
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume43
Issue number23
Early online date17 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2016

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