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Wave-vortex Interactions in the Submesoscale

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission is the next generation of satellite altimetry, set to launch in early 2022. It will be the first mission to provide global sea surface height (SSH) measurements fine enough to resolve the submesoscale. The submesoscale is home to unbalanced waves and exotic balanced flows. To infer ocean circulation from SWOT’s SSH measurements, a major challenge SWOT will face will be distinguishing between wave and balanced flows, as they have different relations to velocity. In this newly resolvable regime, balanced flows interact with waves by redistributing wave energy to other wave vectors and frequencies. Characterizing this interaction between internal tides and submesoscale eddies will be of key importance. In this presentation, we will investigate the interaction between wave and balanced modes in the rotating shallow water model with numerical simulations. We show the success and failures of applying ‘mesoscale analysis’ to the submesoscale. Our simulations shows the strength of the interactions as a function of the Rossby number and length scale.

Event series  Brewer-Wilson Seminar Series