ocean energetics

This schematic shows various avenues of energy flow between large-scale sources and dissipation. Some kinetic energy (KE) is dissipated in boundary layers, but some energy cascades to the scale of oceanic finestructure where it is used by turbulent processes to producing mixing and buoyancy flux. Potential energy (PE) also moves in an energy cascade, in some cases dissipating through convective process, but in other cases generating kinetic energy through the generation of mesoscale eddies (St. Laurent and Simmons 2006 download pdf).

Ocean energetics relates to the flow of energy between different scales of motion down to the scale of turbulent dissipation and mixing. The ocean is a vast thermodynamic machine, powered by the sun, the winds, and the tides. There is no concept more fundamental to the ocean than energy; it characterizes the flow of waters and the transfer of heat between warm and cold regions. The flow of energy in the ocean system, together with the flow of energy in the atmosphere, controls the climate state of the Earth.

My studies focus on the transfer of energy from large- and mesoscale oceanic flows to smaller dissipative scales. Internal waves are central to this process, as they are perhaps the only mechanism that acts in the range of scales between the mesoscale (eddies) and the turbulent processes that lead mixing and diffusion.

Reviewed Publications

St. Laurent, L., and H. Simmons, 2006. Estimates of power consumed by mixing in the ocean interior. Journal of Climate, 19, 4877-4890. download pdf

Dewar, W. K, R. J. Bingham, R. L. Iverson, D. P. Nowacek, L. C. St. Laurent, and P. H. Wiebe, 2006. Does the marine biosphere mix the ocean? Journal of Marine Research, 64, 541-561. download pdf

St. Laurent, L. and J. Nash, 2004. An examination of the radiative and dissipative properties of the internal tides. Deep-Sea Research II, 51, 3029—3042, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2004.09.008.

Simmons, H. L., S. R. Jayne, L. St. Laurent, and A. Weaver, 2004. Tidally driven mixing in a numerical model of the ocean general circulation. Ocean Modelling, 6, 245--263, doi:10.1016/S1463-5003(03)00011-8. download pdf

St. Laurent, L., H. L. Simmons, S. R. Jayne, 2002. Estimating tidally driven mixing in the deep ocean. Geophysical Research Letters, 29, 2106-2110, doi:10.1029/2002GL015633. download pdf

St. Laurent, L., and C. Garrett, 2002. The Role of Internal Tides in Mixing the Deep Ocean. Journal of Physical Oceanography, 32, 2882-2899. download pdf

Garrett, C., and L. St. Laurent, 2002. Aspects of Deep Ocean Mixing. Journal of the Oceanographic Society of Japan, 58, 11-24. download pdf

Jayne, S. R., and L. St. Laurent, 2001. Parameterizing Tidal Dissipation Over Rough Topography. Geophysical Research Letters, 28, 811-814. download pdf

Additional Publications

Jayne, S. R., L. C. St. Laurent, and S. T. Gille, 2004. Connections between ocean bottom topography and Earth's climate. Oceanography, 17, 65--74. download pdf

St. Laurent, L., and J. Nash, 2003. On the fraction of internal tide energy dissipated near topography. In Proceedings of the 'Aha Huliko'a Hawaiian Winter Workshop, 45--58.

St. Laurent, L., and C. Garrett, 2002. Energy dissipation by internal ocean tides. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 83, 1457--1458.

whoi logo

Copyright ©2007 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, All Rights Reserved.
Mail: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole Road, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA

This page was last updated on 07/28/14