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A Multilayer Model of the Thermohaline and Wind-Driven Ocean Circulation

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  • 1 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08542
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Abstract

A hybrid, multilayer model for the oceanic general circulation is formulated and tested. The model includes a mixed layer at the surface which is specified by Eulerian coordinates, and three moving layers below which are specified by quasi-Lagrangian, isopycnal coordinates.

Initial tests have been carried out with a 22 × 22 horizontal grid mesh covering a subtropical-subpolar basin (6000 × 6000 km2). The numerical results demonstrate a strong interaction between the wind-driven and the thermally driven circulations, including outcropping of the lower isopycnal layers, a Gulf Stream-like interior boundary current, and convection which produces mode water and abyssal water. The model provides insight into the potential vorticity balance and its relation to both the wind-driven and thermohaline components of the circulation which has not been previously available from Eulerian numerical models or analytical models based on the assumption of an ideal fluid thermocline.

Abstract

A hybrid, multilayer model for the oceanic general circulation is formulated and tested. The model includes a mixed layer at the surface which is specified by Eulerian coordinates, and three moving layers below which are specified by quasi-Lagrangian, isopycnal coordinates.

Initial tests have been carried out with a 22 × 22 horizontal grid mesh covering a subtropical-subpolar basin (6000 × 6000 km2). The numerical results demonstrate a strong interaction between the wind-driven and the thermally driven circulations, including outcropping of the lower isopycnal layers, a Gulf Stream-like interior boundary current, and convection which produces mode water and abyssal water. The model provides insight into the potential vorticity balance and its relation to both the wind-driven and thermohaline components of the circulation which has not been previously available from Eulerian numerical models or analytical models based on the assumption of an ideal fluid thermocline.

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