Ocean Dynamics pp 337-367 | Cite as

Small-Scale Turbulence

  • Dirk Olbers
  • Jürgen Willebrand
  • Carsten Eden


In this chapter, we will discuss turbulence on small spatial and temporal scales. For small scales, Earth’s rotation is not important, and the length scales in horizontal and vertical directions are comparable, so that the turbulence can often be idealized as isotropic in three dimensions. Furthermore, we expect that the inertial forces are larger than viscous or gravity forces. Small-scale turbulence dominates the motion in the oceanic surface layer and is also important in other boundary layers, e. g. near the ocean floor. The theory of homogeneous turbulence and some important results are discussed in Section 11.1, while basic concepts of turbulent mixing are described in Section 11.2. The application to the real, i. e. inhomogeneous, ocean in the presence of density stratification and large gravity force and the development of basic turbulence closure schemes can be found in Section 11.3.


Mixed Layer Turbulent Kinetic Energy Mixed Layer Depth Richardson Number Isotropic Turbulence 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und MeeresforschungBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften IFM-GEOMARKielGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity HamburgHamburgGermany

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