Dissipation of mesoscale eddies and its contribution to mixing in the northern South China Sea
It is reported that turbulent mixing is enhanced in the South China Sea (SCS), and it is highly variable in both space and time. Generation and breaking of internal tides has been identified as the main process to drive turbulent mixing in the SCS, while the contributions from other processes are not clear enough. Here we investigate the potential contribution from mesoscale eddies to turbulent mixing in the SCS using a high resolution numerical simulation. Our results show that mesoscale eddies in the SCS effectively dissipate over complex rough topography and indicate that the generation of submesoscale motions and lee waves are two pathways for the transfer of mesoscale eddy energy down to small dissipation scales. The energy loss from mesoscale eddies near the Xisha Islands is estimated to be sufficient to sustain turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate of O (10−8) W/kg. This study suggests an alternative and potentially efficient mechanism to internal tides for the local maintenance of turbulent mixing in the SCS.
Australian Research Council
Publication titleScientific Reports
Department/SchoolInstitute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
PublisherNature Publishing Group
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
Rights statementCopyright 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/