Enhanced Abyssal Mixing in the Equatorial Pacific Associated with Non-Traditional Effects

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  • 1 Earth System Science Department, Stanford University, Stanford, California
  • 2 IRD/LEGOS, Toulouse, France
  • 3 Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), IUEM, Brest, France, and Institut Universitaire de France (IUF)
  • 4 Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d’Océanographie Physique et Spatiale (LOPS), IUEM, Brest, France
  • 5 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
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Abstract

Recent theoretical work has shown that, when the so-called non-traditional effects are taken into account, the reflection of Equatorially Trapped Waves (ETWs) off the seafloor generates strong vertical shear that results in bottom-intensified mixing at the inertial latitude of the ETW via a mechanism of critical reflection. It has been estimated that this process could play an important role in driving diapycnal upwelling in the Abyssal Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). However, these results were derived under an idealized configuration with a monochromatic ETW propagating through a flat ocean at rest. To test the theory in a flow that is more representative of the ocean, we contrast a set of realistic numerical simulations of the Eastern Equatorial Pacific run using either the hydrostatic or quasi-hydrostatic approximation, the latter of which accounts for non-traditional effects. The simulations are nested into a Pacific-wide hydrostatic parent solution forced with climatological data and realistic bathymetry, resulting in an ETW field and a deep circulation consistent with observations. Using these simulations, we observe enhanced abyssal mixing in the quasi-hydrostatic run, even over smooth topography, that is absent in the hydrostatic run. The mixing is associated with inertial shear that has spatio-temporal properties consistent with the critical reflection mechanism. The enhanced mixing results in a weakening of the abyssal stratification and drives diapycnal upwelling in our simulation, in agreement with the predictions from the idealized simulations. The diapycnal upwelling is on the order of O(10) Sv and thus could play an important role in closing the AMOC.

Corresponding author address: Bertrand Delorme, Stanford University, 473 Via Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail: bdelorme@stanford.edu

Abstract

Recent theoretical work has shown that, when the so-called non-traditional effects are taken into account, the reflection of Equatorially Trapped Waves (ETWs) off the seafloor generates strong vertical shear that results in bottom-intensified mixing at the inertial latitude of the ETW via a mechanism of critical reflection. It has been estimated that this process could play an important role in driving diapycnal upwelling in the Abyssal Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). However, these results were derived under an idealized configuration with a monochromatic ETW propagating through a flat ocean at rest. To test the theory in a flow that is more representative of the ocean, we contrast a set of realistic numerical simulations of the Eastern Equatorial Pacific run using either the hydrostatic or quasi-hydrostatic approximation, the latter of which accounts for non-traditional effects. The simulations are nested into a Pacific-wide hydrostatic parent solution forced with climatological data and realistic bathymetry, resulting in an ETW field and a deep circulation consistent with observations. Using these simulations, we observe enhanced abyssal mixing in the quasi-hydrostatic run, even over smooth topography, that is absent in the hydrostatic run. The mixing is associated with inertial shear that has spatio-temporal properties consistent with the critical reflection mechanism. The enhanced mixing results in a weakening of the abyssal stratification and drives diapycnal upwelling in our simulation, in agreement with the predictions from the idealized simulations. The diapycnal upwelling is on the order of O(10) Sv and thus could play an important role in closing the AMOC.

Corresponding author address: Bertrand Delorme, Stanford University, 473 Via Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail: bdelorme@stanford.edu
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