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Seminar

Title : Small-scale ocean dynamics in the Cape basin and its impact on the regional circulation
Name of the speaker : Tonia Capuano
Affiliation : LMD
Laboratory organizer : LMD
Date and time : 05-12-2017 16h00
Location : Ecole Normale Supérieure, 24 rue Lhomond, salle E350
Summary :

This study addresses the role of oceanic small-scale processes in the formation and transformation of subsurface waters that participate in the Indo-Atlantic interocean exchange. We focus on the Cape Basin dynamics, characterized by a highly non-linear turbulence. We provide qualitative and quantitative evidence of the direct impact that meso- and submesoscale structures, their dynamical interactions and their seasonal variability have on the local thermocline and intermediate waters. A sequence of numerical simulations, ranging from ‘eddy-permitting’ to ‘submesoscale resolving’, underlines the importance of an adequate vertical resolution to correctly depict the water masses properties.
We point out that Agulhas eddies are mainly generated through baroclinic instabilities and are marked by a clear seasonality. This is linked to the seasonal occurrence of distinct meso-submesoscale instabilities in the upper layers: symmetric instabilities are at play during summer, while mixed-layer instabilities prevail in winter. We also found that Charney baroclinic instability connects these two submesoscale regimes and plays a major role in the seasonal formation of a newly-identified type of mode waters: Agulhas Rings Mode Water. Finally, we show that eddies of both polarity advect, stir and mix Antarctic Intermediate Water, via the mesoscale strain field producing filaments and T-S fine-scale structures.
Our results suggest the existence of two dynamical regimes affecting the upper and intermediate layers of the Cape Basin. Near the surface, the submesoscale-driven frontogenesis and their enhanced energetics lead to a predominance of ageostrophic dynamics. The intermediate depths are, instead, characterised by a quasi-gesotrophic regime due to the prevailing mesoscale effects.

Contact :

bruno.deremble@ens.fr