Flow and mixing in Ascension, a steep, narrow canyon

M. C. Gregg, R. A. Hall, G. S. Carter, M. H. Alford, R. C. Lien, D. P. Winkel, D. J. Wain

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19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A thin gash in the continental slope northwest of Monterey Bay, Ascension Canyon, is steep, with sides and axis both strongly supercritical to M2 internal tides. A hydrostatic model forced with eight tidal constituents shows no major sources feeding energy into the canyon, but significant energy is exchanged between barotropic and baroclinic flows along the tops of the sides, where slopes are critical. Average turbulent dissipation rates observed near spring tide during April are half as large as a two week average measured during August in Monterey Canyon. Owing to Ascension's weaker stratification, however, its average diapycnal diffusivity, 3.9 × 10−3 m2 s−1, exceeded the 2.5 × 10−3 m2 s−1 found in Monterey. Most of the dissipation occurred near the bottom, apparently associated with an internal bore, and just below the rim, where sustained cross-canyon flow may have been generating lee waves or rotors. The near-bottom mixing decreased sharply around Ascension's one bend, as did vertically integrated baroclinic energy fluxes. Dissipation had a minor effect on energetics, which were controlled by flux divergences and convergences and temporal changes in energy density. In Ascension, the observed dissipation rate near spring tide was 2.1 times that predicted from a simulation using eight tidal constituents averaged over a fortnightly period. The same observation was 1.5 times the average of an M2-only prediction. In Monterey, the previous observed average was 4.9 times the average of an M2-only prediction.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberC07016
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Volume116
Issue numberC7
Early online date19 Jul 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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