Anisotropic material transport by eddies and eddy-driven currents in a model of the North Atlantic

Igor Kamenkovich, Pavel Berloff, Joseph Pedlosky

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34 Scopus citations


This study analyzes anisotropic properties of the material transport by eddies and eddy-driven zonal jets in a general circulation model of the North Atlantic through the analysis of Lagrangian particle trajectories. Spreading rates-defined here as half the rate of change in the particle dispersion-in the zonal direction systematically exceed the meridional rates by an order of magnitude. Area-averaged values for the upper-ocean zonal and meridional spreading rates are approximately 8100 and 1400 m2 s-1, respectively, and in the deep ocean they are 2400 and 200 m2 s-1. The results demonstrate that this anisotropy is mainly due to the action of the transient eddies and not to the shear dispersion associated with the time-mean jets. This property is consistent with the fact that eddies in this study have zonally elongated shapes. With the exception of the upper-ocean subpolar gyre, eddies also cause the superdiffusive zonal spreading, significant variations in the spreading rate in the vertical and meridional directions, and the difference between the westward and eastward spreading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3162-3175
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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