Dynamical controls on the longevity of a non-linear vortex : The case of the Lofoten Basin Eddy
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
The Lofoten Basin is the largest oceanic reservoir of heat in the Nordic Seas, and the site of important heat fluxes to the atmosphere. An intense permanent anticyclone in the basin impacts the regional hydrography, energetics, and ecosystem. Repeated sampling of this Lofoten Basin Eddy from dedicated cruises, autonomous profiling gliders, and acoustically-tracked subsurface floats enables the documentation of its dynamics and energetics over the course of 15 months. The eddy core, in nearly solid-body rotation, exhibits an unusually low vertical vorticity close to the local inertial frequency and important strain rates at the periphery. Subsurface floats as deep as 800 m are trapped within the core for their entire deployment duration (up to 15 months). The potential vorticity is reduced in the core by two orders of magnitude relative to the surroundings, creating a barrier. In the winter, this barrier weakens and lateral exchanges and heat flux between the eddy and the surroundings increase, apparently the result of dynamical instabilities and a possible eddy merger. Based on a simple energy budget, the dissipation timescale for the eddy energy is three years, during which wintertime convection seasonally modulates potential and kinetic energy.