The ocean surface mixed layer (SML) links the atmosphere and the ocean, providing key exchanges of energy and materials. Circular currents of ocean water, or eddies, with a thickness around 100 km have a strong impact on SML dynamics, which are complex and hard to represent in models. An international team of researchers, including Climate Variability & Predictability (CVP) Program funded scientist Dr. Baylor Fox-Kemper of Brown University, investigated the role of these eddies on dissipation processes in the SML using measurements from the South China Sea. This new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that SML dissipation is dominated by energy produced from wind and waves. The SML affects marine life, weather, and climate, and the results from this study provide insight into the contributions to its dynamic processes.
This work is part of the Climate Process Teams (CPT), a partnership between NOAA’s CVP Program, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy (DOE). These CPT projects aim to improve how ocean and atmospheric processes are represented in climate models.
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