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Fluid trajectories in the eddy
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Fluid trajectories in the eddy show a mix of chaotic (red) regions and non-chaotic (blue and green) surfaces.

A vertical section showing the layering of chaotic and non-chaotic regions of the eddy.
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A vertical section showing the layering of chaotic and non-chaotic regions of the eddy.


Mixing is an important consideration in the understanding of how properties such as heat and oxygen are transferred down from the ocean surface, or how nutrients are brought up from depth. Harmful algal blooms can be locked to such processes. In work with colleagues Irina Rypina and Tamay Ozgokmen, I use chaos theory to try to understand these processes as they might act in an ocean eddy. With this approach, we follow the trajectories of individual fluid elements and try to determine when they get scrambled. In the images presented below, this chaotic mixing occurs in a very non-uniform manner, often in layers sandwiched between non-chaotic surfaces (tori) that resemble doughnuts or twisted hula hoops.


Last updated: September 3, 2013
 


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