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Sensitivity of an Ocean General Circulation Model to a Parameterization of Near-Surface Eddy Fluxes

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • | 3 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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Abstract

A simplified version of the near-boundary eddy flux parameterization developed recently by Ferrari et al. has been implemented in the NCAR Community Climate System Model (CCSM3) ocean component for the surface boundary only. This scheme includes the effects of diabatic mesoscale fluxes within the surface layer. The experiments with the new parameterization show significant improvements compared to a control integration that tapers the effects of the eddies as the surface is approached. Such surface tapering is typical of present implementations of eddy transport in some current ocean models. The comparison is also promising versus available observations and results from an eddy-resolving model. These improvements include the elimination of strong, near-surface, eddy-induced circulations and a better heat transport profile in the upper ocean. The experiments with the new scheme also show reduced abyssal cooling and diminished trends in the potential temperature drifts. Furthermore, the need for any ad hoc, near-surface taper functions is eliminated. The impact of the new parameterization is mostly associated with the modified eddy-induced velocity treatment near the surface. The new parameterization acts in the depth range exposed to enhanced turbulent mixing at the ocean surface. This depth range includes the actively turbulent boundary layer and a transition layer underneath, composed of waters intermittently exposed to mixing. The mixed layer, that is, the regions of weak stratification at the ocean surface, is found to be a good proxy for the sum of the boundary layer depth and transition layer thickness.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Gokhan Danabasoglu, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. Email: gokhan@ucar.edu

Abstract

A simplified version of the near-boundary eddy flux parameterization developed recently by Ferrari et al. has been implemented in the NCAR Community Climate System Model (CCSM3) ocean component for the surface boundary only. This scheme includes the effects of diabatic mesoscale fluxes within the surface layer. The experiments with the new parameterization show significant improvements compared to a control integration that tapers the effects of the eddies as the surface is approached. Such surface tapering is typical of present implementations of eddy transport in some current ocean models. The comparison is also promising versus available observations and results from an eddy-resolving model. These improvements include the elimination of strong, near-surface, eddy-induced circulations and a better heat transport profile in the upper ocean. The experiments with the new scheme also show reduced abyssal cooling and diminished trends in the potential temperature drifts. Furthermore, the need for any ad hoc, near-surface taper functions is eliminated. The impact of the new parameterization is mostly associated with the modified eddy-induced velocity treatment near the surface. The new parameterization acts in the depth range exposed to enhanced turbulent mixing at the ocean surface. This depth range includes the actively turbulent boundary layer and a transition layer underneath, composed of waters intermittently exposed to mixing. The mixed layer, that is, the regions of weak stratification at the ocean surface, is found to be a good proxy for the sum of the boundary layer depth and transition layer thickness.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Gokhan Danabasoglu, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. Email: gokhan@ucar.edu

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