Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2013. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 43 (2013): 283–300, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-11-0240.1.
Motivated by the recent interest in ocean energetics, the widespread use of horizontal eddy viscosity in models, and the promise of high horizontal resolution data from the planned wide-swath satellite altimeter, this paper explores the impacts of horizontal eddy viscosity and horizontal grid resolution on geostrophic turbulence, with a particular focus on spectral kinetic energy fluxes Π(K) computed in the isotropic wavenumber (K) domain. The paper utilizes idealized two-layer quasigeostrophic (QG) models, realistic high-resolution ocean general circulation models, and present-generation gridded satellite altimeter data. Adding horizontal eddy viscosity to the QG model results in a forward cascade at smaller scales, in apparent agreement with results from present-generation altimetry. Eddy viscosity is taken to roughly represent coupling of mesoscale eddies to internal waves or to submesoscale eddies. Filtering the output of either the QG or realistic models before computing Π(K) also greatly increases the forward cascade. Such filtering mimics the smoothing inherent in the construction of present-generation gridded altimeter data. It is therefore difficult to say whether the forward cascades seen in present-generation altimeter data are due to real physics (represented here by eddy viscosity) or to insufficient horizontal resolution. The inverse cascade at larger scales remains in the models even after filtering, suggesting that its existence in the models and in altimeter data is robust. However, the magnitude of the inverse cascade is affected by filtering, suggesting that the wide-swath altimeter will allow a more accurate determination of the inverse cascade at larger scales as well as providing important constraints on smaller-scale dynamics.
BKA received support from Office of Naval
Research Grant N00014-11-1-0487, National Science
Foundation (NSF) Grants OCE-0924481 and OCE-
09607820, and University of Michigan startup funds.
KLP acknowledges support from Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution bridge support funds. RBS acknowledges
support from NSF grants OCE-0960834 and
OCE-0851457, a contract with the National Oceanography
Centre, Southampton, and a NASA subcontract
to Boston University. JFS and JGR were supported by
the projects ‘‘Global and remote littoral forcing in
global ocean models’’ and ‘‘Agesotrophic vorticity dynamics
of the ocean,’’ respectively, both sponsored by
the Office of Naval Research under program element 601153N.
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