When complexity leads to simplicity: Ocean surface mixing simplified by vertical convection

Rotem Aharon, Vered Rom-Kedar, Hezi Gildor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The effect of weak vertical motion on the dynamics of materials that are limited to move on the ocean surface is an unresolved problem with important environmental and ecological implications (e.g., oil spills and larvae dispersion). We investigate this effect by introducing into the classical horizontal time-periodic double-gyre model vertical motion associated with diurnal convection. The classical model produces chaotic advection on the surface. In contrast, the weak vertical motion simplifies this chaotic surface mixing pattern for a wide range of parameters. Melnikov analysis is employed to demonstrate that these conclusions are general and may be applicable to realistic cases. This counter intuitive result that the very weak nocturnal convection simplifies ocean surface mixing has significant outcomes.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number056603
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Israel Science Foundation (ISF) (Grant No. 134409 to H.G. and Grant No. 27ISF307 to V.R.-K.). We thanks George Haller, Denny Kirwan, and Eli Tziperman for useful comments.


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