The surface ocean circulation in the Caribbean Sea is characterized by the interaction between anticyclonic eddies and the Caribbean Upwelling System (CUS). These interactions lead to instabilities that modulate the transfer of kinetic energy up- or down-cascade. The interaction of North Brazil Current rings with the islands leads to the formation of submesoscale vorticity filaments leeward of the Lesser Antilles, thus transferring kinetic energy from large to small scales. Within the Caribbean, the upper ocean dynamic ranges from large-scale currents to coastal upwelling filaments and allow the vertical exchange of physical properties and supply KE to larger scales. In this study, we use a regional model with different spatial resolutions (6, 3, and 1 km), focusing on the Guajira Peninsula and the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, in order to evaluate the impact of submesoscale processes on the regional KE energy cascade. Ageostrophic velocities emerge as the Rossby number becomes O(1). As model resolution is increased submesoscale motions are more energetic, as seen by the flatter KE spectra when compared to the lower resolution run. KE injection at the large scales is greater in the Guajira region than in the others regions, being more effectively transferred to smaller scales, thus showing that submesoscale dynamics is key in modulating eddy kinetic energy and the energy cascade within the Caribbean Sea.
Submesoscale dynamics Kinetic energy cascade Caribbean Sea
We would like to thank Xavier Capet for his invaluable help and insightful discussions that contributed greatly to this work. We thank Cesar B. Rocha (Scripps) for comments provided on an earlier version of the manuscript. This work was part of a master thesis that was supported by the scholarship that was supported by the Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Nivel Superior (CAPES), Brazil, through a cooperation with OAS and the COIMBRA group. PHRC acknowledges support from CNPq (process: 306971/2016-0, 458583/2013-8).
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