Mixed Layer Dynamics and the Diurnal Cycle in the Equatorial Atlantic Ocean

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 8:00 AM
Jacob O Wenegrat, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States and Michael J McPhaden, NOAA Seattle, Seattle, WA, United States
A unique 8-month data set of moored near-surface velocity observations is used to examine the diurnal cycle of near-surface shear and stratification at 0°N, 23°W in the central equatorial Atlantic Ocean. The ocean diurnal cycle is strongly modulated by seasonal variability in wind forcing, and during trade wind conditions descending diurnal shear layers are observed regularly in the late afternoon and evening. These descending shear layers are associated with reduced Richardson number, and marginal instability of the equatorial undercurrent below the mixed layer. The significance of these findings for deep-cycle turbulence in the central equatorial Atlantic will be discussed in relation to recent work from the Pacific.