Langmuir Turbulence

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In fluid dynamics, and oceanography, the term Langmuir Turbulence[1] refers to a turbulent flow with coherent Langmuir circulation structures that exist and evolve over a range of spatial and temporal scales. These structures arise through an interaction between the ocean surface waves and the currents.

In the upper ocean Langmuir circulations are a special case where the turbulent structures exhibit a dominant cell size. In general it is expected that Langmuir turbulence is a global ocean phenomenon[2] and not confined to gentle wind conditions or shallow water ways (as with most observations of Langmuir circulation).

An important consequence of the Langmuir turbulence are deeply penetrating jets.[3] These features occur between counter-rotating Langmuir circulations and can inject tubulent kinetic energy to depths well below the depth scale for the surface waves (Stokes drift depth scale). Langmuir turbulence could have an important impact on our understanding of climate.[2] In particular, Langmuir turbulence could affect the global ocean's sea surface temperature as the deeply penetrating Langmuir jets modify the depth of the ocean mixed layer.

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  1. ^ McWilliams, J.; Sullivan, P.; Moeng, C. (1997), "Langmuir turbulence in the ocean", Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 334: 1–30, doi:10.1017/S0022112096004375 
  2. ^ a b Belcher, S.E.; Grant, A.L. M.; Hanley, K.E.; Fox-Kemper, B.; Van Roekel, L.; Sullivan, P.P.; Large, W.G.; Brown, A.; Hines, A.; Calvert, Daley; Rutgersson, Anna; Pettersson, Heidi; Bidlot, Jean-Raymond; Janssen, Peter A. E. M.; Polton, Jeff A. (2012), "A global perspective on Langmuir turbulence in the ocean surface boundary layer", Geophys. Res. Lett., 39 (18): n/a, doi:10.1029/2012GL052932 
  3. ^ Polton, J.A.; Belcher, S.E. (2007), "Langmuir Turbulence and deeply penetrating jets in an unstratified mixed layer", J. Geophys. Res., 112 (C9): 1–11, doi:10.1029/2007JC004205