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Journal Article

Anisotropic Rotational and Isotropic Residual Isopycnal Mesoscale Eddy Fluxes

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Eden, C. (2010). Anisotropic Rotational and Isotropic Residual Isopycnal Mesoscale Eddy Fluxes. JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHY, 40(11), 2511-2524. doi:10.1175/2010JPO4397.1.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0015-881D-3
In the generalized temporal residual mean (TRM-G) framework, the diapycnal rotational eddy fluxes are defined such that the residual divergent diapycnal eddy flux is related to irreversible changes of buoyancy, that is, diapycnal mixing (or temporal changes of variance and higher order moments) only. Here, it is discussed that for the isopycnal eddy fluxes a similar physically meaningful property exists: rotational isopycnal eddy fluxes can be defined in TRM-G such that the residual divergent part of the flux is related to removal of mean available potential energy and transfer to eddy energy only, that is, to the classical picture of eddy activity. In two idealized eddying models, both featuring strong mesoscale eddy-driven zonal jets, large isopycnal eddy fluxes are circulating at the flanks of the jets. The residual isopycnal eddy fluxes, however, are predominantly meridional and thus downgradient, indicating vanishing anisotropic mixing of isopycnal thickness, consistent with the classical picture of eddy-driven overturning by baroclinic instability in jets. Using isotropic thickness mixing-standard in ocean models-appears therefore as sufficient in this model diagnosis.