1932

Abstract

This article assesses the contribution to ocean mixing by the marine biosphere at both high and low Reynolds numbers Re=/. While back-of-the-envelope estimates have suggested that swimming marine organisms might generate as much high-Reynolds-number turbulence as deep-ocean tide- and wind-generated internal waves, and that turbulent dissipation rates of (10−5 W kg−1) (Re ∼ 105) could be produced by aggregations of organisms ranging from (0.01 m) krill to (10 m) cetaceans, comparable to strong wind and buoyancy forcing near the surface, microstructure measurements do not find consistently elevated dissipation associated with diel vertically migrating krill. Elevated dissipation rates are associated with schools of (0.1– 1 m) fish but with low mixing coefficients ( ∼ 0.002–0.02, as compared with ∼ 0.2 for geophysical turbulence). Likewise, viscously induced drift at low Reynolds numbers produces little mixing of temperature, solutes, dissolved nutrients, and gases when realistic swimmers and molecular scalar diffusion are taken into account. The conclusion is that, while the marine biosphere can generate turbulence, it contributes little ocean mixing compared with breaking internal gravity waves.

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2019-01-03
2024-06-17
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