When complexity leads to simplicity: Ocean surface mixing simplified by vertical convection

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Abstract

The effect of weak vertical motion on the dynamics of materials that are limited to move on the ocean surface is an unresolved problem with important environmental and ecological implications (e.g., oil spills and larvae dispersion). We investigate this effect by introducing into the classical horizontal time-periodic double-gyre model vertical motion associated with diurnal convection. The classical model produces chaotic advection on the surface. In contrast, the weak vertical motion simplifies this chaotic surface mixing pattern for a wide range of parameters. Melnikov analysis is employed to demonstrate that these conclusions are general and may be applicable to realistic cases. This counter intuitive result that the very weak nocturnal convection simplifies ocean surface mixing has significant outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number056603
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Computational Mechanics

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