Divergent eddy heat fluxes in the kuroshio extension at 1448-1488e. Part I: Mean structure

Stuart P. Bishop, D. Randolph Watts, Kathleen A. Donohue

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The Kuroshio Extension System Study (KESS) provided 16 months of observations to quantify eddy heat flux (EHF) from a mesoscale-resolving array of current- and pressure-equipped inverted echo sounders (CPIES). The mapped EHF estimates agreed well with point in situ measurements from subsurface current meter moorings. Geostrophic currents determined with the CPIES separate the vertical structure into an equivalent-barotropic internal mode and a nearly depth-independent external mode measured in the deep ocean. As a useful by-product of this decomposition, the divergent EHF (DEHF) arises entirely from the correlation between the external mode and the upper-ocean thermal front. EHFs associated with the internal mode are completely rotational. DEHFs were mostly downgradient and strongest just upstream of a mean trough at ~ 147*E. The downgradient DEHFs resulted in a mean-to-eddy potential energy conversion rate that peaked midthermocline with a magnitude of 10 × 10-3 cm2 s-3 and a depth-averaged value of 3 × 103 cm2 s-3. DEHFs were vertically coherent, with subsurface maxima exceeding 400kWm-2 near 400-m depth. The subsurface maximum DEHFs occurred near the depth where the quasigeostrophic potential vorticity lateral gradient changes sign from one layer to the next below it. The steering level is deeper than this depth of maximum DEHFs.Adowngradient parameterization could be fitted to the DEHF vertical structure with a constant eddy diffusivity k that had values of 800-1400m2 s-1 along the mean path. The resulting divergent meridional eddy heat transport across the KESS array was 0.05 PW near 35.25°N, which may account for ~1/ 3 of the total Pacific meridional heat transport at this latitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1533-1550
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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