In this talk I will describe a test of theories of the energization of upper-ocean turbulence using satellite altimetry. While existing altimeters do not resolve the submesoscale, its energization by a mixed layer instability is thought to trigger an inverse cascade or energy to larger distances. By studying 8 years of data from the Jason-2 satellite, we show that in extratropical regions (without a competing tidal signature), the annual mode of kinetic energy in adjacent wavenumber bands peaks after the annual mode of the mixed layer depth, with lower wavenumber peaking later, consistent with modeling results. This talk will be based on previous and ongoing work with Jörn Callies.
(J. Phys. Oceanogr. 52 (2022) 2069-2089)