Zonal Momentum Balance at the Equator Public Deposited

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  • The conventional view of equatorial dynamics requires that the zonal equatorial wind stress be balanced, in the mean, by the vertical integral of “large-scale” terms, such as the zonal pressure gradient, mesoscale eddy flux, and mean advection, over the upper few hundred meters. It is usually presumed that the surface wind stress is communicated to the interior by turbulent processes. Turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rates measured at 140°W during the TROPIC HEAT I experiment and a production rate–dissipation rate balance argument have been used to calculate the zonal turbulent stress at 30 to 90 m depth. The calculated turbulent stress at 30 m depth amounts to only 20% of the wind stress and decreases exponentially with depth below 30 m. Typical large-scale estimates of the zonal pressure gradient, mesoscale eddy flux, and advection have a depth scale larger than the turbulent stress, and are inconsistent with the vertical divergence of the stress as estimated from the dissipation rate measurements. It is concluded that either 1) the measured estimates of dissipation rate are too small, 2) the actual large-scale zonal pressure gradient, mesoscale eddy flux, and advection during our observation period were highly atypical and had a very shallow depth scale, 3) some process other than the simple diffusion of momentum through shear instabilities is transporting the momentum, or 4) the assumption of a production-dissipation balance in the turbulent kinetic energy budget is incorrect. The first two possibilities are unlikely.
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  • Dillon, T. M., J. N. Moum, T. K. Chereskin, D. R. Caldwell, 1989: Zonal Momentum Balance at the Equator. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 19, 561–570.
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  • description.provenance : Submitted by Deborah Campbell (deborah.campbell@oregonstate.edu) on 2011-12-15T18:41:34Z No. of bitstreams: 1 MoumJN.CEOAS.ZonalMomentumBalance.pdf: 946694 bytes, checksum: 1c91a5c0f9b4f32885c6d7d6b7e09217 (MD5)
  • description.provenance : Made available in DSpace on 2011-12-15T18:41:34Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 1 MoumJN.CEOAS.ZonalMomentumBalance.pdf: 946694 bytes, checksum: 1c91a5c0f9b4f32885c6d7d6b7e09217 (MD5) Previous issue date: 1989-05

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