Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 04 Issue 01

View Issue TOC
Volume 04, No. 1
Pages 39 - 45


REVIEW AND COMMENT • The Study of Mixing in the Ocean: A Brief History

Michael C. Gregg
First Paragraph

Between the mid 1950s and the 1970s, new technology permitted measurements of centimeter scale variability in the ocean. By directly observing the scales at which viscous and diffusive dissipation complete the action of turbulent mixing, oceanographers were finally able to test centuries-old ideas and develop new concepts based on such measurements. As pointed out by Garrett (1983), mixing of the ocean is now approached in three ways: by inferences about the underlying causes of large-scale behavior; by measurements of the small scales at which mixing occurs; and by process studies conducted in laboratory tanks and with theoretical models. Before the 1960s, inferences played the major role, as turbulence could not be measured in places less energetic than tidal channels and too little was known for realistic process studies. And so this brief history begins with the inferences.


Gregg, M.C. 1991. The study of mixing in the ocean: A brief history. Oceanography 4(1):39–45, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.1991.21.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.