Oceanic turbulence and stochastic models from subsurface Lagrangian data for the northwest Atlantic Ocean

Milena Veneziani, Annalisa Griffa, Andy M. Reynolds, Arthur J. Mariano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The historical dataset provided by 700-m acoustically tracked floats is analyzed in different regions of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. The goal is to characterize the main properties of the mesoscale turbulence and to explore Lagrangian stochastic models capable of describing them. The data analysis is carried out mostly in terms of Lagrangian velocity autocovariance and cross-covariance functions. In the Gulf Stream recirculation and extension regions, the autocovariances and cross covariances exhibit significant oscillatory patterns on time scales comparable to the Lagrangian decorrelation time scale. They are indicative of sub- and superdiffusive behaviors in the mean spreading of water particles. The main result of the paper is that the properties of Lagrangian data can be considered as a superposition of two different regimes associated with looping and nonlooping trajectories and that both regimes can be parameterized using a simple first-order Lagrangian stochastic model with spin parameter Ω. The spin couples the zonal and meridional velocity components, reproducing the effects of rotating coherent structures such as vortices and mesoscale eddies. It is considered as a random parameter whose probability distribution is approximately bimodal, reflecting the distribution of loopers (finite Ω) and nonloopers (zero Ω). This simple model is found to be very effective in reproducing the statistical properties of the data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1884-1906
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Physical Oceanography
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography


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