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Subduction over the Southern Indian Ocean in a High-Resolution Atmosphere–Ocean Coupled Model

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  • 1 National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • | 2 School of Mathematics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
  • | 3 Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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Abstract

This study examines the subduction of the Subantarctic Mode Water in the Indian Ocean in an ocean–atmosphere coupled model in which the ocean component is eddy permitting. The purpose is to assess how sensitive the simulated mode water is to the horizontal resolution in the ocean by comparing with a coarse-resolution ocean coupled model. Subduction of water mass is principally set by the depth of the winter mixed layer. It is found that the path of the Agulhas Current system in the model with an eddy-permitting ocean is different from that with a coarse-resolution ocean. This results in a greater surface heat loss over the Agulhas Return Current and a deeper winter mixed layer downstream in the eddy-permitting ocean coupled model. The winter mixed layer depth in the eddy-permitting ocean compares well to the observations, whereas the winter mixed layer depth in the coarse-resolution ocean coupled model is too shallow and has the wrong spatial structure. To quantify the impacts of different winter mixed depths on the subduction, a way to diagnose local subduction is proposed that includes eddy subduction. It shows that the subduction in the eddy-permitting model is closer to the observations in terms of the magnitudes and the locations. Eddies in the eddy-permitting ocean are found to 1) increase stratification and thus oppose the densification by northward Ekman flow and 2) increase subduction locally. These effects of eddies are not well reproduced by the eddy parameterization in the coarse-resolution ocean coupled model.

Current affiliation: British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Mei-Man Lee, Ocean Modelling and Forecasting, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, Southampton SO14 3ZH, United Kingdom. E-mail: mmlee@noc.soton.ac.uk

Abstract

This study examines the subduction of the Subantarctic Mode Water in the Indian Ocean in an ocean–atmosphere coupled model in which the ocean component is eddy permitting. The purpose is to assess how sensitive the simulated mode water is to the horizontal resolution in the ocean by comparing with a coarse-resolution ocean coupled model. Subduction of water mass is principally set by the depth of the winter mixed layer. It is found that the path of the Agulhas Current system in the model with an eddy-permitting ocean is different from that with a coarse-resolution ocean. This results in a greater surface heat loss over the Agulhas Return Current and a deeper winter mixed layer downstream in the eddy-permitting ocean coupled model. The winter mixed layer depth in the eddy-permitting ocean compares well to the observations, whereas the winter mixed layer depth in the coarse-resolution ocean coupled model is too shallow and has the wrong spatial structure. To quantify the impacts of different winter mixed depths on the subduction, a way to diagnose local subduction is proposed that includes eddy subduction. It shows that the subduction in the eddy-permitting model is closer to the observations in terms of the magnitudes and the locations. Eddies in the eddy-permitting ocean are found to 1) increase stratification and thus oppose the densification by northward Ekman flow and 2) increase subduction locally. These effects of eddies are not well reproduced by the eddy parameterization in the coarse-resolution ocean coupled model.

Current affiliation: British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Mei-Man Lee, Ocean Modelling and Forecasting, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, Southampton SO14 3ZH, United Kingdom. E-mail: mmlee@noc.soton.ac.uk
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