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Recent eddy-permitting simulations of the North Pacific Ocean have revealed robust patterns of multiple zonal jets that visually resemble the zonal jets on giant planets. We argue that this resemblance is more than just visual because the energy spectrum of the oceanic jets obeys a power law that fits spectra of zonal flows on the outer planets. Remarkably, even the non-dimensional proportionality coefficient, CZ, determined by data under that spectral law, appears to be constant for all cases and approximately equal to 0.5. These results indicate that the multiple jet sets in the ocean and in the atmospheres of giant planets are governed by the same dynamics characterized by an anisotropic inverse energy cascade, i.e., the flow of energy from isotropic small-scale eddies to anisotropic large-scales structures, as well as the unique anisotropic spectrum. Implications of these results for climate research and future designs of observational missions are discussed.

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Geophysical Research Letters, v. 31, issue 13, art. L13303

©2004. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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