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Water-Mass Transformations in a Neutral Density Framework and the Key Role of Light Penetration

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  • 1 Laboratoire d’Océanographie et du Climat: Expérimentations et Approches Numériques, Unité Mixte de Recherche 7159 CNRS/IRD/UPMC/MNHN, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Paris, France, and Stazione Zoologica “Anton Dohrn,” Naples, Italy
  • | 2 Laboratoire d’Océanographie et du Climat: Expérimentations et Approches Numériques, Unité Mixte de Recherche 7159 CNRS/IRD/UPMC/MNHN, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Paris, France, and National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • | 3 CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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Abstract

A new formulation is proposed for the evaluation of the dianeutral transport in the ocean. The method represents an extension of the classical diagnostic approach for estimating the water-mass formation from the buoyancy balance. The inclusion of internal sources such as the penetrative solar shortwave radiation (i.e., depth-dependent heat transfer) in the estimate of surface buoyancy fluxes has a significant impact in several oceanic regions, and the former simplified formulation can lead to a 100% error in the estimate of water-mass formation due to surface buoyancy fluxes. Furthermore, internal mixing can also be overestimated in inversions of in situ data when the shortwave radiation is not allowed to be penetrative.

The method examines the evolution equation of neutral density via the tendencies of potential temperature and salinity. The neutral density framework does not require the choice of a reference pressure and thus, unlike previous approaches that consider potential density, it is well suited for examining the whole open-ocean water column.

The methodology is easy to implement, particularly for ocean numerical models. The authors present here its application to a long simulation made with an ice–ocean global model, which allowed the method to be validated.

Corresponding author address: Daniele Iudicone, Stazione Zoologica “A. Dohrn,” Villa Comunale 1, 80121 Naples, Italy. Email: iudicone@szn.it

Abstract

A new formulation is proposed for the evaluation of the dianeutral transport in the ocean. The method represents an extension of the classical diagnostic approach for estimating the water-mass formation from the buoyancy balance. The inclusion of internal sources such as the penetrative solar shortwave radiation (i.e., depth-dependent heat transfer) in the estimate of surface buoyancy fluxes has a significant impact in several oceanic regions, and the former simplified formulation can lead to a 100% error in the estimate of water-mass formation due to surface buoyancy fluxes. Furthermore, internal mixing can also be overestimated in inversions of in situ data when the shortwave radiation is not allowed to be penetrative.

The method examines the evolution equation of neutral density via the tendencies of potential temperature and salinity. The neutral density framework does not require the choice of a reference pressure and thus, unlike previous approaches that consider potential density, it is well suited for examining the whole open-ocean water column.

The methodology is easy to implement, particularly for ocean numerical models. The authors present here its application to a long simulation made with an ice–ocean global model, which allowed the method to be validated.

Corresponding author address: Daniele Iudicone, Stazione Zoologica “A. Dohrn,” Villa Comunale 1, 80121 Naples, Italy. Email: iudicone@szn.it

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