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https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-124
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-124
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 19 Dec 2019

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal OS.

Scale-dependent analysis of in situ observations in the mesoscale to submesoscale range around New Caledonia

Guillaume Sérazin1, Frédéric Marin2, Lionel Gourdeau2, Sophie Cravatte2, Rosemary Morrow3, and Mei-Ling Dabat3 Guillaume Sérazin et al.
  • 1Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney NWS 2052, Australia
  • 2LEGOS/IRD, Toulouse, France
  • 3CNRS/LEGOS, Toulouse, France

Abstract. Small-scale ocean dynamics around New Caledonia (22° S) in the Southwest Pacific Ocean occur in regions with substantial mesoscale eddies, complex bathymetry, complex intertwined currents, islands, and strong internal tides. Using second order structure functions applied to observational ADCP and TSG dataset, these small-scale dynamics are characterised in the range of scales 3–100 km in order to determine the turbulent regime at work. A Helmholtz decomposition is used to analyse the contribution of rotational and divergent motions. A surface intensified regime is shown to be at work south and east of New Caledonia, involving substantial rotational motions such as submesoscale structures generated by mixed layer instabilities and frontogenesis. This regime is however absent north of New Caledonia, where mesoscale eddies are weaker and surface available potential energy is smaller at small scales. North of New Caledonia and below 200 m in the regions south and east of New Caledonia, the dynamical regime at work could be explained by stratified turbulence as divergent and rotational motions have similar contribution, but weakly nonlinear interaction between inertia gravity waves are also possible as structure functions get close to the empirical spectrum model for inertia gravity waves. Seasonal variations of the available potential energy reservoir, associated with a change in the vertical profile rather than in horizontal density variance, suggest that submesoscale motions would also seasonally vary around New Caledonia. Overall, a loss of geostrophic balance is likely to occur at scales smaller than 10 km, where the contribution of divergent motions become significant.

Guillaume Sérazin et al.

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Guillaume Sérazin et al.

Guillaume Sérazin et al.

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