Connection between encounter volume and diffusivity in geophysical flows
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5194/npg-25-267-2018
Abstract. Trajectory encounter volume – the volume of fluid that passes close to a reference fluid parcel over some time interval – has been recently introduced as a measure of mixing potential of a flow. Diffusivity is the most commonly used characteristic of turbulent diffusion. We derive the analytical relationship between the encounter volume and diffusivity under the assumption of an isotropic random walk, i.e., diffusive motion, in one and two dimensions. We apply the derived formulas to produce maps of encounter volume and the corresponding diffusivity in the Gulf Stream region of the North Atlantic based on satellite altimetry, and discuss the mixing properties of Gulf Stream rings. Advantages offered by the derived formula for estimating diffusivity from oceanographic data are discussed, as well as applications to other disciplines.