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Buoyancy and Mixed Layer Effects on the Sea Surface Height Response in an Isopycnal Model of the North Pacific

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  • 1 School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 2 Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 3 School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • | 4 NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey
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Abstract

An isopycnal model of the North Pacific is used to demonstrate that the seasonal cycle of heating and cooling and the resulting mixed layer depth entrainment and detrainment cycle play a role in the propagation of wind-driven Rossby waves. The model is forced by realistic winds and seasonal heat flux to examine the interaction of nearly annual wind-driven Rossby waves with the seasonal mixed layer cycle. Comparison among four model runs, one adiabatic (without diapycnal mixing or explicit mixed layer dynamics), one diabatic (with diapycnal mixing and explicit mixed layer dynamics), one with the seasonal cycle of heating only, and one with only variable winds suggests that mixed layer entrainment changes the structure of the response substantially, particularly at midlatitudes. Specifically, the mixed layer seasonal cycle works against Ekman pumping in the forcing of first-mode Rossby waves between 17° and 28°N. South of there the mixed layer seasonal cycle has little influence on the Rossby waves, while in the north, seasonal Rossby waves do not propagate. To examine the first baroclinic mode response in detail, a modal decomposition of the numerical model output is done. In addition, a comparison of the forcing by diapycnal pumping and Ekman pumping is done by a projection of Ekman pumping and diapycnal velocities on to the quasigeostrophic potential vorticity equation for each vertical mode. The first baroclinic mode's forcing is split between Ekman pumping and diapycnal velocity at midlatitudes, providing an explanation for the changes in the response when a seasonal mixed layer response is included. This is confirmed by doing a comparison of the modal decomposition in the four runs described above, and by calculation of the first baroclinic mode Rossby wave response using the one-dimensional Rossby wave equation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. LuAnne Thompson, School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Box 355351, Seattle, WA 98195-5351. Email: luanne@ocean.washington.edu

Abstract

An isopycnal model of the North Pacific is used to demonstrate that the seasonal cycle of heating and cooling and the resulting mixed layer depth entrainment and detrainment cycle play a role in the propagation of wind-driven Rossby waves. The model is forced by realistic winds and seasonal heat flux to examine the interaction of nearly annual wind-driven Rossby waves with the seasonal mixed layer cycle. Comparison among four model runs, one adiabatic (without diapycnal mixing or explicit mixed layer dynamics), one diabatic (with diapycnal mixing and explicit mixed layer dynamics), one with the seasonal cycle of heating only, and one with only variable winds suggests that mixed layer entrainment changes the structure of the response substantially, particularly at midlatitudes. Specifically, the mixed layer seasonal cycle works against Ekman pumping in the forcing of first-mode Rossby waves between 17° and 28°N. South of there the mixed layer seasonal cycle has little influence on the Rossby waves, while in the north, seasonal Rossby waves do not propagate. To examine the first baroclinic mode response in detail, a modal decomposition of the numerical model output is done. In addition, a comparison of the forcing by diapycnal pumping and Ekman pumping is done by a projection of Ekman pumping and diapycnal velocities on to the quasigeostrophic potential vorticity equation for each vertical mode. The first baroclinic mode's forcing is split between Ekman pumping and diapycnal velocity at midlatitudes, providing an explanation for the changes in the response when a seasonal mixed layer response is included. This is confirmed by doing a comparison of the modal decomposition in the four runs described above, and by calculation of the first baroclinic mode Rossby wave response using the one-dimensional Rossby wave equation.

Corresponding author address: Dr. LuAnne Thompson, School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Box 355351, Seattle, WA 98195-5351. Email: luanne@ocean.washington.edu

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