Turbulent diapycnal fluxes as a pilot Essential Ocean Variable

We contend that ocean turbulent fluxes should be included in the list of Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) created by the Global Ocean Observing System. This list aims to identify variables that are essential to observe to inform policy and maintain a healthy and resilient ocean. Diapycnal turbulent fluxes quantify the rates of exchange of tracers (such as temperature, salinity, density or nutrients, all of which are already EOVs) across a density layer. Measuring them is necessary to close the tracer concentration budgets of these quantities. Measuring turbulent fluxes of buoyancy (J b ), heat (J q ), salinity (J S ) or any other tracer requires either synchronous microscale (a few centimeters) measurements of both the vector velocity and the 1 Le Boyer et al.scalar (e.g., temperature) to produce time series of the highly correlated perturbations of the two variables, or microscale measurements of turbulent dissipation rates of kinetic energy (ϵ) and of thermal/salinity/tracer variance (χ), from which fluxes can be derived. Unlike isopycnal turbulent fluxes, which are dominated by the mesoscale (tens of kilometers), microscale diapycnal fluxes can not be derived as the product of existing EOVs, but rather require observations at the appropriate scales. The instrumentation, standardization of measurement practices, and data coordination of turbulence observations have advanced greatly in the past decade and are becoming increasingly robust. With more routine measurements, we can begin to unravel the relationships between physical mixing processes and ecosystem health. In addition to laying out the scientific relevance of the turbulent diapycnal fluxes, this review also compiles the current developments steering the community toward such routine measurements, strengthening the case for registering the turbulent diapycnal fluxes as a pilot Essential Ocean Variable.


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Authors: Le Boyer, Arnaud, Couto, Nicole, Alford, Matthew H., Drake, Henri F., Bluteau, Cynthia, Hughes, Kenneth, Naveira Garabato, Alberto, Moulin, Aurelie, Peacock, Thomas, Fine, Elizabeth C., Mashayek, Ali, Cimoli, Laura, Meredith, Michael ORCIDORCID record for Michael Meredith, Melet, Angelique, Fer, Ilker, Dengler, Marcus, Stevens, Craig

On this site: Michael Meredith
28 November, 2023
Frontiers in Marine Science / 10
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