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Langmuir Cells, Small Scale Eddies, and the Large-scale ocean: a modern day David vs. Goliath

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Monday, October 15, 2012, 4 pm– 5 pm

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Luke Van Roekel

Langmuir cells are small (O(5-100m)), three-dimensional, circulations in the upper ocean. These cells often form into a jumbled array of cells called Langmuir Turbulence. Both Langmuir turbulence, and hence Langmuir cells, result from an interaction of surface waves and windstress. Submesoscale eddies are slightly larger (1-10 km) and result from instabilities caused by surface temperature fronts. While Langmuir turbulence dramatically mixes the ocean, submesoscale eddies act to reverse this mixing.

In this talk, possible impacts of each of these small-scale processes on the large scale ocean will be examined separately. To understand how submesoscale eddies and Langmuir turbulence interact, including how this combined interaction influences the larger ocean, unprecedented simulations have been conducted that resolve Langmuir turbulence and submesoscale eddies. These simulations have and will provide insight into upper ocean physics and guidance to ocean model development for years to come.

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