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Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


We study the generation, propagation, and dissipation of wind-generated near-inertial waves (NIWs) in a global 1/25° Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) simulation with realistic atmospheric forcing and background circulation during 30 days in May–June 2019. The time-mean near-inertial wind power input and depth-integrated energy balance terms are computed for the total fields and the fields decomposed into vertical modes to differentiate between the radiative and (locally) dissipative components of NIW energy. Only 30.3% of the near-inertial wind input projects onto the first five modes, whereas the sum of the NIW energy in the first five modes adds up to 58% of the total NIW energy. Almost all of the depth-integrated NIW horizontal energy flux projects on the first five modes. The global distribution of dissipation and decay distances of NIW modes confirm that lower latitudes are a sink for NIW energy generated at higher latitudes. The locally dissipated fraction of NIW energy qlocal is found to be uniform throughout the global ocean, with a global mean value of 0.79. The horizontal NIW fluxes diverge from areas with cyclonic vorticity and converge in areas with anticyclonic vorticity; that is, anticyclonic eddies are a sink for NIW energy fluxes—in particular, for higher modes. Most of the residual energy that does not project onto modes propagates downward in anticyclonic eddies. The global near-inertial wind power input is 0.21 TW for the 30 days, of which only 19% is transmitted below 500-m depth.


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Publisher's Version found at: 10.1175/JPO-D-21-0130.1

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Journal of Physical Oceanography



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