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Effects of the Westerly Wind Stress over the Southern Ocean on the Meridional Overturning

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  • 1 Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan
  • | 2 Japan Meteorological Agency, Tokyo, Japan
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Abstract

Numerical experiments were conducted to clarify the processes through which the Southern Ocean wind affects the meridional overturning (NA cell) associated with North Atlantic Deep Water production. These were based on idealized single- and twin-basin (idealized Atlantic and Pacific Ocean) models with a periodically connected passage under various forcings at the surface. Relationships among the wind stresses, the NA cell, and the buoyancy fluxes were investigated. Increased westerly wind stresses increase the surface buoyancy gains in the Southern Ocean under the density-restoring boundary condition. The buoyancy anomalies excited in the Southern Ocean propagate as baroclinic waves into the northern North Atlantic, modify the density field, and enhance the NA cell, which increases buoyancy losses there until the global buoyancy flux budget balances. The results from experiments using a realistically configured global ocean model confirm that the Southern Ocean wind effects on the NA cell can be understood consistently through thermodynamics and that the wind stresses outside the channel latitudes, as well as those at the Cape Horn latitude, affect the global buoyancy fluxes and the NA cell.

Corresponding author address: Mikitoshi Hirabara, Meteorological Research Institute, Department of Oceanographic Research, 1-1, Nagamine, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0052, Japan. Email: mhirabar@mri-jma.go.jp

Abstract

Numerical experiments were conducted to clarify the processes through which the Southern Ocean wind affects the meridional overturning (NA cell) associated with North Atlantic Deep Water production. These were based on idealized single- and twin-basin (idealized Atlantic and Pacific Ocean) models with a periodically connected passage under various forcings at the surface. Relationships among the wind stresses, the NA cell, and the buoyancy fluxes were investigated. Increased westerly wind stresses increase the surface buoyancy gains in the Southern Ocean under the density-restoring boundary condition. The buoyancy anomalies excited in the Southern Ocean propagate as baroclinic waves into the northern North Atlantic, modify the density field, and enhance the NA cell, which increases buoyancy losses there until the global buoyancy flux budget balances. The results from experiments using a realistically configured global ocean model confirm that the Southern Ocean wind effects on the NA cell can be understood consistently through thermodynamics and that the wind stresses outside the channel latitudes, as well as those at the Cape Horn latitude, affect the global buoyancy fluxes and the NA cell.

Corresponding author address: Mikitoshi Hirabara, Meteorological Research Institute, Department of Oceanographic Research, 1-1, Nagamine, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0052, Japan. Email: mhirabar@mri-jma.go.jp

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