Climate Process Team

Improving representations of internal-wave driven mixing in global ocean models

Turbulent mixing is a crucial driver of heat and nutrient and current distributions through the worlds oceans.  Away from direct surface forcing, most turbulent mixing in the ocean interior is driven by breaking internal gravity waves.  Global levels and patterns of mixing are hence set by the detailed geography of internal wave generation, propagation and breaking.  Funded by NSF and NOAA,  our Climate Process Team (CPT) was created to develop, test, and implement dynamically appropriate parameterizations for diapycnal mixing due to internal-wave breaking for use in global climate models.    The CPT comprised of about 25 scientists from multiple institutions, including Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Oregon State University, University of Michigan, the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Florida State University, and University of Victoria.   Our official project ran from 2010-2015.   Our work resulted in several products which are available to the broader scientific community: 
  • A database of the majority of microstructure data collected through US funding for the last several decades, as well as several datasets collected by our international partners. This will also be the suggested repository for all newly funded US projects involving collection of microstructure data. [].  
  • A repository of code to parameterize turbulent mixing in the ocean, developed for this and related projects, suitably generalized for use by a variety of models. [CVMix]
  • A summary paper describing the major patterns and dynamical pathways by which internal wave breaking controls ocean mixing, as well as the parameterizations developed within our program. [BAMS paper]