Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 10 Issue 03

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Volume 10, No. 3
Pages 111 - 115

Quantifying Vertical Fluxes from Turbulence in the Ocean

J.N. Moum
First Paragraph

Turbulence represents the smallest scales of the oceanic flowfield, ranging from the order of 1 mm diffusive scales to eddy scales on the order of 1 m in the thermocline, to 10 m in the wind-mixed upper ocean, and to 100 m in the most energetic tidal mixing or convectively mixing flows. Although models of the general circulation cannot possibly resolve the scales of turbulence, its effects must be accounted for. This is because turbulence is the primary agent for irreversibly mixing mass, heat, nutrients and other scalar properties important to the ocean’s stratification, to its lifeforms, and to its ability to rid itself of pollutants. By stretching material surfaces, turbulence acts to enhance concentration gradients so that molecular diffusion can proceed rapidly enough to play a role in the large-scale, irreversible redistribution of properties.


Moum, J.N. 1997. Quantifying vertical fluxes from turbulence in the ocean. Oceanography 10(3):111–115, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.1997.02.