Turbulence structure in the upper ocean: a comparative study of observations and modeling
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Geophysical Institute 
Observations of turbulent dissipation rates measured by two independent instruments are compared with numerical model runs to investigate the injection of turbulence generated by sea surface gravity waves. The nearsurface observations are made by a moored autonomous instrument, fixed at approximately 8 m below the sea surface. The instrument is equipped with shear probes, a highresolution pressure sensor, and an inertial motion package to measure time series of dissipation rate and nondirectional surface wave energy spectrum. A free-falling profiler is used additionally to collect vertical microstructure profiles in the upper ocean. For the model simulations, we use a one-dimensional mixed layer model based on a k–ε type second moment turbulence closure, which is modified to include the effects of wave breaking and Langmuir cells. The dissipation rates obtained using the modified k–ε model are elevated near the sea surface and in the upper water column, consistent with the measurements, mainly as a result of wave breaking at the surface, and energy drawn from wave field to the mean flow by Stokes drift. The agreement between observed and simulated turbulent quantities is fairly good, especially when the Stokes production is taken into account.