Shear at the critical diurnal latitude

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Abstract

[1] Around latitudes ∣ϕ∣ ≈ 30° where diurnal D1 equals the local inertial frequency f = 2Ωsinϕ, Ω denoting the Earth's rotational vector, several mechanisms can enhance shear at f due to a reduction in vertical scales. This would imply locally enhanced deep-ocean mixing. Here, recent 1.5 years of acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) observations from the Canary Basin demonstrate largest kinetic energy at semidiurnal tides (D2), but a complete absence of D2-shear. Instead, shear is peaking at subinertial 0.97 ± 0.01f and terdiurnal 3f(≈D2 + f ≈ D3 here), and vertical scales Δz(f) < 0.1Δz(D2). However, the f-band is broader than deterministic tidal frequencies and the smallest vertical scales, organizing shear in thin layers, are found at the lower inertio-gravity wave limit, which equals 0.97f for the weakest stratification observed (N = 6f, using Δz = 10 m). Hence, besides possibly subharmonic resonance, other mechanisms must be involved in enhancing f-shear, including non-linear harmonic interactions and wave trapping at the critical latitude's poleward shift.

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