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Free Content Evaluating salt-fingering theories

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The NATRE fine- and microstructure data set is revisited to test salt-finger amplitude theories. Dependences of the mixing efficiency Γ, microscale buoyancy Reynolds number Re and thermal Cox number CxT on 5-m density ratio R and gradient Richardson number Ri are examined. The observed mixing efficiency is too high to be explained by linear fastest-growing fingers but can be reproduced by wavenumbers 0.5-0.9 times lower than the fastest-growing wavenumber. Constraining these fingers with a hybrid wave/finger Froude number or a finger Reynolds number cannot reproduce the observed trends with R or Ri, respectively. This suggests that background shear has no influence on finger amplitudes. Constraining average amplitudes of these lower-wavenumber fingers with finger Richardson number Rif ∼ 0.2 reproduces the observed dependence of Re and CxT on density ratio R and Ri at all but the lowest observed density ratio (R = 1.3). Separately relaxing the assumptions of viscous control, dominance of a single mode and tall narrow fingers does not explain the difference between theory and data at low R for a critical Rif ∼ 0.2.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, 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. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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