The ocean circulation is the result of a balance between wind forcing and air-sea heat and freshwater fluxes at planetary scales and dissipation at centimeter scales. A full theory of the circulation must therefore include a discussion of the processes that take the energy from the forcing to the dissipation scales, also known as the turbulent cascade. Our group has laid the foundations of such a theory with a combination of observations, fluid dynamics arguments, and results from numerical simulations. By keeping track of the energy flows, we have demonstrated the importance of a number of processes (e.g. lee waves, submesoscale eddies) in connecting large and small scale motions and thereby in setting the large-scale ocean circulation.
Previously working on this theme: Maxim Nikurashin.