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      Can Langmuir Circulations Solve the Problem of Insufficient Upper-Ocean Mixing?

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          Insufficient vertical mixing in the upper ocean during summer is a common problem of oceanic circulation and climate models. The turbulence associated with non-breaking waves is widely believed to effectively solve this problem. In many studies, non-breaking surface wave processes are attributed to the effects of Langmuir circulations (LCs). In the present work, the influences of LCs on the upper-ocean thermal structure are examined by using one-and three-dimensional ocean circulation, as well as climate, models. The results indicated that the effect of vertical mixing enhanced by LCs is limited to the upper ocean. The models evaluated, including those considering LC effects alone and the combined effects of LCs and wave breaking, failed to produce a reasonable summertime thermocline, resulting in a large cold bias in the subsurface layer. Therefore, while they can slightly reduce the biases of mixed layer depths and sea surface temperatures in models, LCs are insufficient to solve the problem of insufficient vertical mixing. Moreover, restriction of non-breaking surface wave-induced processes in LCs may be questionable.

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          Author and article information

          Journal of Ocean University of China
          Science Press and Springer (China )
          10 July 2020
          01 August 2020
          : 19
          : 4
          : 761-771
          1First Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Qingdao 266061, China
          2Laboratory for Regional Oceanography and Numerical Modeling, Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266237, China
          3Key Laboratory of Marine Sciences and Numerical Modeling, Ministry of Natural Resources, Qingdao 266061, China
          Author notes
          *Corresponding author: DAI Dejun, Tel: 0086-532-88961709 E-mail: djdai@
          Copyright © Ocean University of China, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2020.

          The copyright to this article, including any graphic elements therein (e.g. illustrations, charts, moving images), is hereby assigned for good and valuable consideration to the editorial office of Journal of Ocean University of China, Science Press and Springer effective if and when the article is accepted for publication and to the extent assignable if assignability is restricted for by applicable law or regulations (e.g. for U.S. government or crown employees).

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