Enhanced vertical mixing within mesoscale eddies due to high frequency winds in the south China sea

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Cardona Orozco, Yuley Mildrey
Bracco, Annalisa
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The South China Sea is a marginal basin with a complex circulation influenced by the East Asian Monsoon, river discharge and intricate bathymetry. As a result, both the mesoscale eddy field and the near-inertial energy distribution display large spatial variability and they strongly influence the oceanic transport and mixing. With an ensemble of numerical integrations using a regional ocean model, this work investigates how the temporal resolution of the atmospheric forcing fields modifies the horizontal and vertical velocity patterns and impacts the transport properties in the basin. The response of the mesoscale circulation in the South China Sea is investigated under three different forcing conditions: monthly, daily and six-hourly momentum and heat fluxes. While the horizontal circulation does not display significant differences, the representation of the vertical velocity field displays high sensitivity to the frequency of the wind forcing. If the wind field contains energy at the inertial frequency or higher (daily and six-hourly cases), then Vortex Rossby waves and near inertial waves are excited as ageostrophic expression of the vigorous eddy field. Those waves dominate the vertical velocity field in the mixed layer (vortex Rossby waves) and below the first hundred meters (near inertial waves) and they are responsible for the differences in the vertical transport properties under the various forcing fields as quantified by frequency spectra, vertical velocity profiles and vertical dispersion of Lagrangian tracers.
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