Global Observations of Eddy-Induced Mixed Layer Depth Variabilit
Event: 2017 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting
Session: Science III: Mesoscale and sub-mesoscale oceanography
Presentation type: Type Oral
Contribution: PDF file
The near-surface mixed layer acts as a conduit between the oceans interior and the atmosphere. Mesoscale eddies, energetic vortices covering nearly a third of the ocean surface, modulate the spatial and temporal evolution of the mixed layer. We present a global analysis of concurrent satellite observations of mesoscale eddies with hydrographic profiles by autonomous Argo floats, revealing rich geographic and seasonal variability in the influence of eddies on mixed layer depth. Anticyclones are shown to deepen mixed layer depth while cyclones thin this layer, with the magnitude of these eddy-induced mixed layer depth anomalies being largest in the winter. Eddy-centric composite averages reveal that the largest anomalies occur at the eddy center and decrease with distance from the center. Furthermore, the extent to which eddies modulate mixed layer depth is linearly related to the sea surface height amplitude of the eddies. Finally, large eddy-mediated mixed layer depth anomalies are more common in anticyclones. We present candidate mechanisms for this observed asymmetry.