Diagnostic Characteristics of Submesoscale Coastal Surface Currents

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Submesoscale kinetic energy (KE) spectra and fluxes at the length scales ranging from 2 to 25 km are estimated from hourly and O(1) km-scale coastal surface current maps observed from shore-based high-frequency radars off southern San Diego. The one-dimensional wave number-domain KE spectra of the surface currents have decay slopes between k(-2) and k(-3) at a wave number (k) of 0.5 km(-1). The KE spectra exhibit anisotropy associated with anisotropic circulation, which is constrained by the shoreline and bottom bathymetry. Moreover, the KE spectra exhibit weak seasonality related to the regional submesoscale eddies and low-frequency circulation with weak seasonal variability. The estimated KE fluxes are categorized into four cases of purely forward cascades and inverse cascades at all wave numbers, inverse-then-forward cascades with a single zero-crossing within the range of wave numbers (0.04 to 0.5 km(-1)), and residuals, which account for approximately 33%, 39%, 19%, and 9% of the total number of realizations, respectively. An injection scale where forward enstrophy cascade and inverse energy cascade occur is estimated to be 5 to 10 km from the cases of the inverse-then-forward cascade, which is consistent with the length scales of the regional submesoscale eddies. Thus, the regional submesoscale processes are initiated by surface frontogenesis due to the weak seasonal low-frequency surface circulation and topography-related currents, then maintained by baroclinic instabilities associated with the seasonal mixed layer and O(10) km-scale submesoscale eddies with weak seasonal variability.
Publisher
AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION
Issue Date
2018-03
Language
English
Article Type
Article
Citation

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-OCEANS, v.123, no.3, pp.1838 - 1859

ISSN
2169-9275
DOI
10.1002/2017JC013428
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10203/242375
Appears in Collection
ME-Journal Papers(저널논문)
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