Turbulent dissipation on the margins of the South China Sea

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Abstract

[1] Measurements of turbulence along the continental slope, shelfbreak, and shelf of the northern South China Sea are presented from a 10-day measurement program during April 2005. The shelfbreak region was characterized by a deep stratification that appears to be typical of the late winter-monsoon. This appears to shift the wave field at the shelfbreak from the soliton-like depression anomalies observed in previous years to a more complex wave field, supporting high-frequency waves in both upper and lower depth-intervals of the water column. On average, 30% of the depth-integrated turbulent dissipation occurs within 10 m of the bottom, where baroclinic energy is preferentially dissipated. Dissipation levels, reaching 50 mW/m2, are an order of magnitude larger than those attainable through frictional dissipation of the local barotropic tide, and an order of magnitude larger than levels typical in the open ocean.

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