Surface cooling caused by rare but intense near-inertial wave induced mixing in the tropical Atlantic
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Surface cooling caused by rare but intense near-inertial wave induced mixing in the tropical Atlantic
  • Published Date:

    2020

  • Source:
    Nature Communications, 11(1)
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Surface cooling caused by rare but intense near-inertial wave induced mixing in the tropical Atlantic
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  • Description:
    The direct response of the tropical mixed layer to near-inertial waves (NIWs) has only rarely been observed. Here, we present upper-ocean turbulence data that provide evidence for a strongly elevated vertical diffusive heat flux across the base of the mixed layer in the presence of a NIW, thereby cooling the mixed layer at a rate of 244 W m−2 over the 20 h of continuous measurements. We investigate the seasonal cycle of strong NIW events and find that despite their local intermittent nature, they occur preferentially during boreal summer, presumably associated with the passage of atmospheric African Easterly Waves. We illustrate the impact of these rare but intense NIW induced mixing events on the mixed layer heat balance, highlight their contribution to the seasonal evolution of sea surface temperature, and discuss their potential impact on biological productivity in the tropical North Atlantic.
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