Submesoscale streamers exchange water on the north wall of the Gulf Stream Public Deposited

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  • The Gulf Stream is a major conduit of warm surface water from the tropics to the subpolar North Atlantic. Here we observe and simulate a submesoscale (<20 km) mechanism by which the Gulf Stream exchanges water with subpolar water to the north. Along isopycnals, the front has a sharp compensated temperature-salinity contrast, with distinct mixed water between the two water masses 2 and 4 km wide. This mixed water does not increase downstream despite substantial energy available for mixing. A series of streamers detrain this water at the crest of meanders. Subpolar water replaces the mixed water and resharpens the front. The water mass exchange accounts for a northward flux of salt of 0.5–2.5 psu m² s⁻¹, (large-scale diffusivity O (100 m² s⁻¹)). This is similar to bulk-scale flux estimates of 1.2 psu m² s⁻¹ and supplies fresher water to the Gulf Stream required for the production of 18° subtropical mode water.
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  • Klymak, J. M., Shearman, R. K., Gula, J., Lee, C. M., D'Asaro, E. A., Thomas, L. N., ... & McWilliams, J. C. (2016). Submesoscale streamers exchange water on the north wall of the Gulf Stream. Geophysical Research Letters, 43(3), 1226-1233. doi:10.1002/2015GL067152
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