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03.01.12: Dr. Rui-Xin Huang, “Adiabatic density surface and mixing path”

  • potential density surfaces are surfaces where a parcel can go freely toward the reference depth
  • there is no such a thing as neutral surfaces, that is, surfaces along which parcels can move freely in any direction
  • the definition of adiabatic surfaces is introduced: it is the surfaces where parcels can move away from an initial position
  • an adiabatic surface is dependent on the initial temperature and salinity and location of the parcel. Take a different parcel of same density but different temperature and salinity and the surface is different
  • large temperature and salinity variations can occur along that path so it is not necessarily, and in general it is not, the path actually followed by water parcels
  • when mixing is introduced, “the mixing path along an adiabatic surface” (there is something wrong here but I am sure what he showed) converges toward ? (the potential density surface?)

Although I did not understand perfectly, the take home message is that there is no such thing as a surface along which parcel can move freely and we need to be careful when we use any definition of these surfaces.