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A New Look at Richardson Number Mixing Schemes for Equatorial Ocean Modeling
Journal of Physical Oceanography
  • Edward D. Zaron, Portland State University
  • James N. Moum
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Ocean circulation -- Tropics -- Mathematical models,
  • Turbulence,
  • Ocean mixing -- Tropics -- Mathematical models
A reexamination of turbulence dissipation measurements from the equatorial Pacific shows that the turbulence diffusivities are not a simple function of the gradient Richardson number. A widely used mixing scheme, the K-profile parameterization, overpredicts the turbulent vertical heat flux by roughly a factor of 4 in the stably stratified region between the surface mixed layer and the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC). Additionally, the heat flux divergence is of the incorrect sign in the upper 80 m. An alternative class of parameterizations is examined that expresses the mixing coefficients in terms of the large-scale kinetic energy, shear, and Richardson number. These representations collapse the turbulence diffusivities above and below the Equatorial Undercurrent, and a tuned version is able to reproduce the vertical turbulence heat flux within the 50?180-m depth range. Kinetic energy is not Galilean invariant, so the collapse of the data with the new parameterization suggests that oceanic turbulence responds to boundary forcing at depths well below the surface mixed layer.

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Citation Information
Zaron, Edward D., James N. Moum. (2009). A New Look at Richardson Number Mixing Schemes for Equatorial Ocean Modeling. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 39, 2652-2664.