Role of Langmuir Circulation in the Deepening of the Ocean Surface Mixed Layer

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Science  22 Dec 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5244, pp. 1955-1957
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5244.1955


Helical motions, known as Langmuir circulation, are a key physical process in the upper ocean but have not yet been incorporated into ocean models. Here, surface mixed layer deepening by Langmuir circulation was added to that due to convection or velocity shear; Langmuir circulation is more important than shear if the velocity difference across the mixed-layer base is less than about 1 percent of the wind speed. In an upper ocean data set, evidence was found for the deepening of the mixed layer by both mechanisms. Thus, Langmuir circulation influences upper ocean diurnal and seasonal changes in stratification.