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A modified method to estimate eddy diffusivity in the North Pacific using altimeter eddy statistics

Zhang, Zhiwei, Li, Yaru, Tian, Jiwei
Chinese journal of oceanology and limnology 2013 v.31 no.4 pp. 925-933
diffusivity, heat, latitude, mixing, models, probability, tracer techniques
The method proposed by Stammer (1998) is modified using eddy statistics from altimeter observation to obtain more realistic eddy diffusivity (K) for the North Pacific. Compared with original estimates, the modified K has remarkably reduced values in the Kuroshio Extension (KE) and North Equatorial Counter Current (NECC) regions, but slightly enhanced values in the Subtropical Counter Current (STCC) region. In strong eastward flow areas like the KE and NECC, owing to a large difference between mean flow velocity and propagation velocity of mesoscale eddies, tracers inside the mesoscale eddies are transported outside rapidly by advection, and mixing length L is hence strongly suppressed. The low eddy probability (P) is also responsible for the reduced K in the NECC area. In the STCC region, however, L is mildly suppressed and P is very high, so K there is enhanced. The zonally-averaged K has two peaks with comparable magnitudes, in the latitude bands of the STCC and KE. In the core of KE, because of the reduced values of P and L, the zonally-averaged K is a minimum. Zonally-integrated eddy heat transport in the KE band, calculated based on the modified K, is much closer to the results of previous independent research, indicating the robustness of our modified K. The map of modified K provides useful informationfor modeling studies in the North Pacific.