Spatial Structure of Vertical Motions and Associated Heat Flux Induced by Mesoscale Eddies in the Upper Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension
October 11,2022

Yushan Qu, Shengpeng Wang, Zhao Jing, Hong Wang, Lixin Wu

Published in Journal of Geophysical Research, Sep 2022

Vertical motions induced by mesoscale eddies in the upper ocean play a vital role in the heat transport over the global ocean. However, the spatial structure of vertical eddy velocity and associated heat flux remains unclear. This study addresses this issue in the Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension based on an eddy-rich Community Earth System Model simulation. Adopting a mesoscale eddy composite analysis, we show that the vertical eddy velocity is enhanced at edges of mesoscale eddies with a maximum magnitude of 0.8 m day−1 in the upper ocean for anticyclonic eddies (AEs) and 0.5 m day−1 for cyclonic eddies (CEs). The associated vertical heat flux is upward, reaching 52 and 32 W m−2 along AEs' and CEs' periphery, respectively. Diagnostic analysis suggests that the enhanced vertical eddy motions at eddy edges are primarily attributed to the ageostrophic secondary circulation (ASC) under the turbulent thermal wind balance that accounts for more than 70% of the vertical eddy velocity and 80% of vertical eddy heat flux in the upper ocean. This ASC is stronger in winter than summer due to the intense turbulent mixing induced by strong surface cooling and wind stirring in winter. Accordingly, the vertical eddy velocity and associated heat flux exhibit a distinct seasonal cycle.

Qu, Y., Wang, S., Jing, Z., Wang, H., & Wu, L. (2022). Spatial structure of vertical motions and associated heat flux induced by mesoscale eddies in the upper Kuroshio-Oyashio Extension. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 127, e2022JC018781.

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