Scaling laws for the upper ocean temperature dissipation rate

Darek J. Bogucki, K. Huguenard, B. K. Haus, T. M. Özgökmen, A. Reniers, N. J.M. Laxague

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Our understanding of temperature dissipation rate χ within the upper ocean boundary layer, which is critical for climate forecasts, is very limited. Near-surface turbulence also affects dispersion of contaminants and biogeochemical tracers. Using high-resolution optical turbulence measurements, scaling laws for χ are investigated under forcing states where either the daytime heat flux or the wind stress forcing is dominant. We find that χ remains constant over 1.5 times the significant wave height, while over a layer below, χ decays based on the local surface forcing. When the heat flux is dominant, traditional scaling based on the Monin-Obukhov similarity theory remains valid; χ â? z-1. When the wind stress dominates, we observe the emergence of a new scaling, χ â? z-1/2, which is explained by invoking the effect of small-scale coherent structures on vertical heat transport. These results have implications for improved modeling of the ocean's heat and CO2 intake. Key Point We proposed a new χ scaling

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-846
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 16 2015


  • upper ocean turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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