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Observations and numerical simulations of large-eddy circulation in the ocean surface mixed layer Public Deposited

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  • Two near-surface dye releases were mapped on scales of minutes to hours temporally, meters to order 1 km horizontally, and 1–20 m vertically using a scanning, depth-resolving airborne lidar. In both cases, dye evolved into a series of rolls with their major axes approximately aligned with the wind and/or near-surface current. In both cases, roll spacing was also of order 5–10 times the mixed layer depth, considerably larger than the 1–2 aspect ratio expected for Langmuir cells. Numerical large-eddy simulations under similar forcing showed similar features, even without Stokes drift forcing. In one case, inertial shear driven by light winds induced large aspect ratio large-eddy circulation. In the second, a preexisting lateral mixed layer density gradient provided the dominant forcing. In both cases, the growth of the large-eddy structures and the strength of the resulting dispersion were highly dependent on the type of forcing.
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  • Sundermeyer, M. A., Skyllingstad, E., Ledwell, J. R., Concannon, B., Terray, E. A., Birch, D., Pierce, S. D., & Cervantes, B. (2014). Observations and numerical simulations of large-eddy circulation in the ocean surface mixed layer. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(21), 7584–7590. doi:10.1002/2014GL061637
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  • Support for the 2004 field experiment was provided by the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Technology Innovation Fund and Coastal Ocean Institute grant 27001545, both through Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and by Office of Naval Research grant N00014-01-1-0984. Support for the 2011 field experiments was provided by ONR grants N00014-09-1-0194, N00014-09-1-0175, N00014-11-WX-21010, N00014-12-WX-21031, and N00014-09-1-0460 and NSF grants OCE-0751734 and OCE-0751653. Simulations were supported under grant N00014-09-1-0268.
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