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Detecting changes at the leading edge of an interface between oceanic water layers

Tang, Q; Tong, VCH; Hobbs, RW; Morales Maqueda, MÁ; (2019) Detecting changes at the leading edge of an interface between oceanic water layers. Nature Communications , 10 (1) , Article 4674. 10.1038/s41467-019-12621-8. Green open access

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Abstract

Many physical phenomena in the ocean involve interactions between water masses of different temperatures and salinities at boundaries. Of particular interest is the characterisation of finescale structure at the marginal interaction zones of these boundaries, where the structure is either destroyed by mixing or formed by stratification. Using high-resolution seismic reflection imaging, we present observations of temporal changes at the leading edge of an interface between sub-thermocline layers in the Panama Basin. By studying time-lapse images of a seismic reflector between two water boundaries with subtle differences, we provide empirical constraints on how stratified layers evolve. The leading edge of this reflector, which is characterised by a gradual lateral decrease in vertical temperature contrast (|ΔT|), increases in length over ~3 days coupled with an increase in |ΔT|. A critical mixing state, in which turbulent diffusion is gradually replaced by double-diffusion as the dominant mixing process, is thus revealed.

Type: Article
Title: Detecting changes at the leading edge of an interface between oceanic water layers
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12621-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12621-8
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Ocean sciences, Physical oceanography
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP: Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP: Education > UCL Arena Centre
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10084289
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