Fiammetta Straneo


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The Interaction of Anticyclonic Eddies with Deep Convection

Fiammetta Straneo (WHOI), Jonathan Lilly (ESR), T. Rykova (MIT/WHOI)

An increasing amount of observational evidence now points to intense, often long-lived, anticyclonic eddies as one of the outstanding dynamical features in the deeply convecting regions of the world ocean. Yet modeling studies, informed by the more limited observations available in the past, have tended to focus on precisely the opposite case, cyclonic eddies that rapidly disintegrate when subjected to strong surface cooling. Anticyclonic eddies could interact with deep convection in a variety of ways, but their net effect on convective water mass transformation is far from obvious; their influence must therefore be considered an important unresolved element of the global thermohaline circulation. We propose to investigate the interaction between anticyclonic eddies and convection using a combined modeling and data analysis approach. Through an hierarchy of numerical models, we will examine the detailed behavior of anticyclonic eddies subject to strong surface buoyancy loss throughout a broad range of parameter space. With the aid of newly-developed mathematical and statistical techniques, we will systematically identify and describe coherent eddies in several key convection areas using a variety of high-quality datasets. The net result should be a significant step towards a more complete understanding of deep convection in a realistic setting.

Anticyclonic eddies observed from a mooring in the central Labrador Sea - temperature is shaded and velocity is overlaid in white.
Left: anticylonic lense containing recently convected water (formed by convection).
Right: Warm, salty anticyclone of boundary current origin.

Presentations and Posters

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation Ocean Sciences Division.

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