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The death of oceanic mesoscale energy at western boundaries of ocean basins

Project Description

Mesoscale eddies – swirling vortices of water 100-200 km across—are highly energetic and ubiquitous in the world’s oceans, acting to redistribute energy and properties and potentially modulating the strength of the large-scale ocean circulation. These eddies can be seen in satellite data, but disappear at western boundaries (Zhai et al., 2010). Multiple theories exist as to why eddies disappear from satellite data including their interaction with western boundary currents, radiating energy in large planetary waves, or dissipating locally through viscous forces. New evidence suggests that the interaction between eddies and the continental slope generates internal waves and subsurface hydraulic jumps, eventually leading to dissipation.

This project will evaluate the energy content of eddies as they impinge on topography and ‘die’ into the background flow, determining how rates of local dissipation vary with eddy strength and rotation direction, and assessing the dynamical processes involved in their dissipation.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibility and how to apply


Clement, L., Frajka-Williams, E., Sheen, K. L., Brearley, J. A., Naveira Garabato, A. C. (2016) Generation of internal waves by eddies at the western boundary of the North Atlantic. J. Phys. Ocean.

Zhai, X., Johnson, H. L., Marshall, D. P. (2010). Significant sink of ocean-eddy energy near western boundaries. Nat. Geosci., 3:608—612.

Evans, D. G., Lucas, N. S., Hemsley, V., Frajka-Williams, E., Naveira Garabato, A. C., et al. (2018). Annual cycle of Turbulent Dissipation Estimated from Seagliders. Geophys. Res. Lett., 45:10,560-10,569. Doi: 10.1029/2018GL079966

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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