Thickness diffusivity in the Southern Ocean

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Abstract

[1] Thickness diffusivity (κ) according to the Gent and McWilliams parameterisation which accounts for eddy-driven advection in the ocean, is estimated using output from an eddy-resolving model of the Southern Ocean. A physically meaningful definition of rotational eddy fluxes leads almost everywhere to positive κ. Zonally averaged near surface values of κ remain smaller than 200 m2/s poleward of the polar front, increases between 60–45°S to about 600 m2/s and peak between 45–35° S at almost 3000 m2/s. κ stays high in the upper 500 m but decreases with depth and is essentially zero below 2500 m. In addition to the thickness diffusion (κ) there is eddy-induced eastward (westward) advection of isopycnal thickness at the poleward (equatorward) flank of the ACC pointing toward strong anisotropic lateral mixing.

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