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The Multi-Scale Layering-Structure of Thermal Microscale Profiles

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Article number3042
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2021
Issue number21
Number of pages21
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Thermal microstructure profiling is an established technique for investigating turbulent mixing and stratification in lakes and oceans. However, it provides only quasi-instantaneous, 1-D snapshots. Other approaches to measuring these phenomena exist, but each has logistic and/or quality weaknesses. Hence, turbulent mixing and stratification processes remain greatly undersampled. This paper contributes to addressing this problem by presenting a novel analysis of
thermal microstructure profiles, focusing on their multi-scale stratification structure. Profiles taken in two small lakes using a Self-Contained Automated Micro-Profiler (SCAMP) were analysed. For each profile, buoyancy frequency (N), Thorpe scales (LT), and the coefficient of vertical turbulent diffusivity (KZ) were determined. To characterize the multi-scale stratification, profiles of d2T/dz2 at
a spectrum of scales were calculated and the number of turning points in them counted. Plotting these counts against the scale gave pseudo-spectra, which were characterized by the index D of their power law regression lines. Scale-dependent correlations of D with N, LT and KZ were found, and suggest that this approach may be useful for providing alternative estimates of the efficiency of
turbulent mixing and measures of longer-term averages of KZ than current methods provide. Testing these potential uses will require comparison of field measurements of D with time-integrated KZ values and numerical simulations.