The potential impact of rapidly-evolving submesoscale motions on relative dispersion is at the forefront of physical oceanography, posing challenges for both observations and modeling. A persistent coastal front driven by river outflows in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea is targeted by two observational cruises conducted in the summer of 2010. The frontal zone is sampled using drifters launched with a multiscale strategy consisting of modules of triplets, released on either side of the front by small boats. This experiment is original in that the submesoscale range of 100 m to 1000 m is directly targeted, and the results are expected to provide guidance for practical applications, such as prediction of the initial spreading of pollutants and biogeochemical tracers. The influence of submesoscale motions on relative dispersion is quantified using both particle mean square separation as a function of time, and scale-dependent finite-size Lyapunov exponents (FSLE, l(d)). Our main finding is the identification of a local dispersion regime with values reaching as high as l ≈ 20 days 1 at drifter pair separation distances of d < 100 m. This value is more than an order of magnitude greater than that obtained by drifters in the offshore Ligurian current. The Ligurian Sea circulation is modeled using a fully realistic Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) with 1/60 horizontal resolution. It is found that the numerical model significantly underestimates the relative dispersion at submesoscales, indicating the need for particle dispersion parameterizations for unresolved processes.

Targeted Lagrangian sampling of submesoscale dispersion at a coastal frontal zone

ZAMBIANCHI, Enrico;FALCO, Pierpaolo;
2012

Abstract

The potential impact of rapidly-evolving submesoscale motions on relative dispersion is at the forefront of physical oceanography, posing challenges for both observations and modeling. A persistent coastal front driven by river outflows in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea is targeted by two observational cruises conducted in the summer of 2010. The frontal zone is sampled using drifters launched with a multiscale strategy consisting of modules of triplets, released on either side of the front by small boats. This experiment is original in that the submesoscale range of 100 m to 1000 m is directly targeted, and the results are expected to provide guidance for practical applications, such as prediction of the initial spreading of pollutants and biogeochemical tracers. The influence of submesoscale motions on relative dispersion is quantified using both particle mean square separation as a function of time, and scale-dependent finite-size Lyapunov exponents (FSLE, l(d)). Our main finding is the identification of a local dispersion regime with values reaching as high as l ≈ 20 days 1 at drifter pair separation distances of d < 100 m. This value is more than an order of magnitude greater than that obtained by drifters in the offshore Ligurian current. The Ligurian Sea circulation is modeled using a fully realistic Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) with 1/60 horizontal resolution. It is found that the numerical model significantly underestimates the relative dispersion at submesoscales, indicating the need for particle dispersion parameterizations for unresolved processes.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11367/30471
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