Oceanic microstructure



Interest in small scale structures of temperature, salt, and density in the sea arose during the last decade from the convergence of several factors. First, it became clear from the study of oceanic circulation models that large-scale oceanic behavior depends critically on the spatial distribution and magnitude of dissipative processes [Niller, 1969]. In present-day numerical models, these processes are incorporated parametrically by assumed relations between the dissipative processes and some of the large-scale variables treated by the models [Robinson, 1965; Bryan, 1968], This method is recognized to be imperfect because the relationships themselves are doubtful at best and the distribution of dissipative processes and their magnitudes can scarcely be estimated. The dissipative processes themselves probably embody many scales of motion in the sea, but they are certain to leave an imprint on the microstructure.