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Oceanic diffusion diagrams

Author(s): Okubo A


Some empirical relations between diffusion characteristics are investigated by the use of carefully examined data from instantaneous dye-release experiments in the upper mixed layer of the sea. The data cover a time scale of diffusion ranging from 2 hr to 1 month and a length scale from 30 m to 100 km. Two kinds of ‘diffusion diagrams’ are prepared; one showing horizontal variance versus diffusion time and the other showing apparent diffusivity versus the scale of diffusion. The overall behaviors of the horizontal variance and of the apparent diffusivity are evidently different from those which the similarity theory of turbulence deduces. However, there still remains a possibility that the similarity theory may be valid locally with different values of the rate of turbulent energy dissipation. The diagrams provide a practical means to predict the rate of horizontal spread of substance from an instantaneous source.

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