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Free Content A proposed flux constraint for salt fingers in shear

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Towed ocean microstructure observations reveal that the temperature Cox number depends inversely on interface temperature-gradient Tz in the fingering-favorable thermohaline staircase east of Barbados. This implies fluxes independent of interface gradients. These conclusions are contrary to theoretical expectations from a finger Froude number stability criterion, |Δw|/N < 1.0: (i) Cox numbers independent of temperature gradient, and (ii) fluxes varying linearly with temperature gradient. We propose a hybrid wave/finger Froude number stability criterion, |(uzwx)(wyvz)|N2 ≤ 1.0 which reduces to Uz|Vw|/N2 ≤ 1.0 for salt sheets (δ/δx = 0, | Δw| = wy) aligned with background (internal-wave) shear Uz. The sheet criterion reproduces the observed behavior. For weak but nonzero background shears, 0.1 < Uz/N < 1.0, this constraint implies higher fluxes than unsheared square-planform fingers constrained by a finger Froude number | wxwy|/N2 < 1.0.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1994-11-01

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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