Ocean Sciences Editors' Highlights

Different Eddy Transport for “Lazy” and “Athletic” Observers

Two specifications of fluid dynamics—taking measurements at a fixed point and following a fluid parcel—are compared for quantifying eddy transport in the ocean.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans


Eddies, which are relatively small swirls of water that can travel long distances, play an important role in the transport of heat, nutrients, salt and other chemicals in the global ocean. Using principles of fluid dynamics, most studies of mass transport by ocean eddies apply the Eulerian specification, where the observer collects data from a fixed point as the water flows by.

However, Liu et al. [2019] also apply the Lagrangian specification, where the observer collects data while traveling along with the moving water parcel. Their comparison finds that both the directions and quantities of ocean transport can be significantly different depending on the specification used. Therefore, the global energy distribution and nutrient spread, which are closely related to the eddy transport deserve a careful revisit, as significantly different estimates may be expected.

Citation: Liu, T., Abernathey, R., Sinha, A., & Chen, D. [2019]. Quantifying eulerian eddy leakiness in an idealized model. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 124. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JC015576

—Lei Zhou, Editor, JGR: Oceans

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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