Title

Coherent Structures at the Ocean Surface in Convectively Unstable Conditions

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-12-1990

Publication Title

Nature

ISSN

0028-0836

Volume

346

Issue/No.

6280

First Page

157

Last Page

160

Abstract

The turbulent boundary layer at the ocean surface has some dynamical similarities to the atmospheric boundary layer. The atmospheric turbulent boundary layer may exhibit not only random fluctuations but also spatially coherent, organized motion. Thorpe conjectured that such organized motion should also be found in the upper ocean boundary layer in convectively unstable conditions. Here I report on observations made in the tropical Atlantic Ocean which confirm this view. Horizontal temperature profiles obtained at a depth of 2m at night revealed ramp-like structures. Vertical velocity profiles in the upper few metres of the ocean was determined using a free-rising profiler, and exhibited abrupt changes corresponding to sudden changes in temperature. These features are known to be characteristic of spatially coherent, organized motions in turbulent boundary layers.

Comments

©1990 Nature Publishing Group

ORCID ID

0000-0001-6519-1547

DOI

10.1038/346157a0

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