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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2018-39
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 May 2018

Research article | 07 May 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

The impact of the planetary β-effect on the tilting vertical structure of a mesoscale eddy

Shengmu Yang1,2, Jiuxing Xing1, Shengli Chen1, Jiwei Tian3, and Daoyi Chen1,2 Shengmu Yang et al.
  • 1Shenzhen Key Laboratory for Coastal Ocean Dynamic and Environment, Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen 518055, China
  • 2School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • 3Physical Oceanography Laboratory/CIMST, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China

Abstract. Tilting mesoscale eddies in the South China Sea have been reported recently from observed field data. The mechanism of the dynamic process of the tilt, however, is not well understood. In this study, the influence of planetary β on the vertical structure of mesoscale eddies and its mechanism is investigated using theoretical analysis and numerical model experiments based on the MIT General Circulation Model (MITgcm). The results of the both approaches show that vertical motion due to the planetary β effect and nonlinear dynamics causes a pressure anomaly in the horizontal domain which triggers the tilt of the eddy axis. The tilting distance extends to be the radius of the eddy maximum velocity. In addition, the vertical stratification is another key factor in controlling the tilt of a mesoscale eddy. External forcings such as wind and inflow current are not considered in this study, and topography is included only in a realistic South China Sea model. Therefore, mesoscale eddies with large vertical depth should have the similar axis tilt character in open oceans under the β-effect.

Shengmu Yang et al.
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Latest update: 15 Oct 2018
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Short summary
Motivated by the recent field observations of the eddy tilting structure in the South China Sea, a simple theoretical analysis and a numerical model (MITgcm) are used to investigate the mechanism of the vertical structure tilt of a mesoscale eddy on the β-plane. The model results correspond well with the theoretical analysis and the results indicate that the β-effect, nonlinear advection, and ocean stratification are important factors in controlling the vertical structure of a mesoscale eddy.
Motivated by the recent field observations of the eddy tilting structure in the South China Sea,...
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