The distribution of eddy kinetic and potential energies in the global ocean
Author(s)Ferrari, Raffaele; Wunsch, Carl
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Understanding of the major sources, sinks, and reservoirs of energy in the ocean is briefly updated in a diagram. The nature of the dominant kinetic energy reservoir, that of the balanced variablity, is then found to be indistinguishable in the observations from a sum of barotropic and first baroclinic ordinary quasi-geostrophic modes. Little supporting evidence is available to partition the spectra among forced motions and turbulent cascades, along with significant energy more consistent with weakly non-linear wave dynamics. Linear-response wind-forced motions appear to dominate the high frequency (but subinertial) mooring frequency spectra. Turbulent cascades appear to fill the high wavenumber spectra in altimetric data and numerical simulations. Progress on these issues is hindered by the difficulty in connecting the comparatively easily available frequency spectra with the variety of theoretically predicted wavenumber spectra.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
FERRARI, RAFFAELE, and CARL WUNSCH. “The Distribution of Eddy Kinetic and Potential Energies in the Global Ocean.” Tellus A 62, no. 2 (March 2010): 92–108.
Final published version