Estimating tidally driven mixing in the deep ocean Academic Article uri icon


  • [1] Using a parameterization for internal wave energy flux in a hydrodynamic model for the tides, we estimate the global distribution of tidal energy available for enhanced turbulent mixing. A relation for the diffusivity of vertical mixing is formulated for regions where internal tides dissipate their energy as turbulence. We assume that 30 +/- 10% of the internal tide energy flux dissipates as turbulence near the site of generation, consistent with an estimate based on microstructure observations from a mid-ocean ridge site. Enhanced levels of mixing are modeled to decay away from topography, in a manner consistent with these observations. Parameterized diffusivities are shown to resemble observed abyssal mixing rates, with estimated uncertainties comparable to standard errors associated with budget and microstructure methods.

publication date

  • December 2002