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Xiaoting Yang
and
Paola Cessi

Abstract

Multidecadal variability on time scales between 20 and 70 years have been observed in the time series of North Atlantic SST. Many mechanisms have been proposed to explain multidecadal variabilities in the Atlantic. Generally, it is the interaction between the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) and North Atlantic surface buoyancy distribution that sustains this variability, with buoyancy anomalies either due to ocean-only processes or to air–sea interactions. In this context, the role of the Arctic Ocean, especially its freshwater flux into the North Atlantic, has been underappreciated. Bering Strait, the only oceanic pathway between the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, has been found important in Arctic Ocean freshwater budget and in modulating the time-averaged state and long-term response of the MOC to high-latitude buoyancy forcing anomalies, via freshwater transport between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. In this paper, we use idealized configurations that include a Pacific-like wide basin and an Atlantic-like narrow basin. The two basins are connected both in the south and north to longitudinally periodic channels, representing the Southern Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, respectively. The Pacific-like basin is opened to the north only through a shallow and narrow strait, while the Atlantic-like basin is fully open to the north. With the goal of studying the role of Bering Strait in the multidecadal variability, we find that the freshwater transport from the Bering Strait forms a tongue structure along the western boundary of the narrow basin, which enhances the local horizontal density gradient. The western boundary region becomes unstable to large-scale baroclinic anomalies, giving rise to multidecadal variability.

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Yuliya Troitskaya
,
Alexander Kandaurov
,
Anna Zotova
,
Evgenia V. Korsukova
, and
Daniil Sergeev

Abstract

Recent studies indicate that the dominant mechanism for generating sprays in hurricane winds is a “bag breakup” fragmentation. This fragmentation process is typically characterized by inflation and consequent bursting of short-lived objects, referred to as “bags” (sail-like pieces of water film surrounded by a rim). Both the number of spray droplets and their size distribution substantially affect the air–sea heat and momentum exchange. Due to a lack of experimental data, the early spray generation function (SGF) for the bag breakup mechanism was based on the assumed similarity with resembling processes. Here we present experimental results for the case with a single isolated bag breakup fragmentation event. These experiments revealed several differences from similar fragmentation events that control the droplet sizes, such as secondary disintegration of droplets in gaseous flows and bursting of bubbles. In contrast to the bubble bursting, the film thickness of the bag canopy is not constant but is random with lognormal distribution. Additionally, its average value does not depend on the canopy radius but is determined by the wind speed. The lognormal size distribution of the canopy droplets is observed in conjunction with the established mechanism of liquid film fragmentation. The rim fragmentation results in two types of droplets, and their size distribution has been found to be lognormal distribution. The constructed SGF is verified by comparing it with experimental data from the literature. The perspectives of transferring the results from laboratory to field environment have also been discussed.

Significance Statement

The “bag breakup” fragmentation is the dominant mechanism for generating spray in hurricane winds. The number and the sizes of the spray droplets substantially affect the heat transport from the ocean to the atmosphere and, thereby, the development of hurricanes. This paper presents experimental data and analysis that demonstrate how droplet formation occurs during bag breakup fragmentation. It also shows analysis of the quantity and size of droplets formed during a single fragmentation event. This work demonstrates how obtained experimental results can be applied to real field conditions in the context of hurricane prediction models.

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Yang Wang
and
Sonya Legg

Abstract

The dissipation of low-mode internal tides as they propagate through mesoscale baroclinic eddies is examined using a series of numerical simulations, complemented by three-dimensional ray tracing calculations. The incident mode-1 internal tide is refracted into convergent energy beams, resulting in a zone of reduced energy flux in the lee of the eddy. The dissipation of internal tides is significantly enhanced in the upper water column within strongly baroclinic (anticyclonic) eddies, exhibiting a spatially asymmetric pattern, due to trapped high-mode internal tides. Where the eddy velocity opposes the internal tide propagation velocity, high-mode waves can be trapped within the eddy, whereas high modes can freely propagate away from regions where eddy and internal wave velocities are in the same direction. The trapped high modes with large vertical shear are then dissipated, with the asymmetric distribution of trapping leading to the asymmetric distribution of dissipation. Three-dimensional ray tracing solutions further illustrate the importance of the baroclinic current for wave trapping. Similar enhancement of dissipation is also found for a baroclinic cyclonic eddy. However, a barotropic eddy is incapable of facilitating robust high modes and thus cannot generate significant dissipation of internal tides, despite its strong velocities. Both energy transfer from low to high modes in the baroclinic eddy structure and trapping of those high modes by the eddy velocity field are therefore necessary to produce internal wave dissipation, a conclusion confirmed by examining the sensitivity of the internal tide dissipation to eddy radius, vorticity, and vertical scale.

Significance Statement

The oceanic tides drive underwater waves at the tidal frequency known as internal tides. When these waves break, or dissipate, they can lead to mixing of oceanic heat and salt which impacts the ocean circulation and climate. Accurate climate predictions require computer models that correctly represent the distribution of this mixing. Here we explore how an oceanic eddy, a swirling vortex of order 100–400 km across, can locally enhance the dissipation of oceanic internal tides. We find that strong ocean eddies can be hotspots for internal tide dissipation, for both clockwise and anticlockwise rotating vortices, and surface-enhanced eddies are most effective at internal tide dissipation. These results can improve climate model representations of tidally driven mixing, leading to more credible future predictions.

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Jang-Geun Choi
,
James Pringle
, and
Thomas Lippmann

Abstract

A perturbative solution of simplified primitive equations for nonlinear weakly stratified upwelling over a frictional slope is found that resolves the vertical structure of velocity fields and can satisfy Ertel’s potential vorticity conservation in the stratified inviscid interior. The solution uses assumptions consistent with the model proposed by Lentz and Chapman, including a steady-state, constant cross-shore density gradient, no alongshore gradients, laterally inviscid, and consideration of cross-shore advection of alongshore momentum. The solution resolves the vertical structure of velocity fields (including subsurface maxima of compensational flow, not resolved by Lentz and Chapman) and can satisfy Ertel’s potential vorticity conservation in the stratified inviscid interior. The dynamics are similar to Lentz and Chapman; bottom stress balances alongshore wind stress in a homogeneous density ocean and is replaced by nonlinear cross-shore transport of alongshore momentum as the Burger number (S = αN/f, where α, N, and f are the bottom slope, buoyancy frequency, Coriolis frequency, respectively) increases. When the solution uses the empirical relation between cross-shore and vertical density gradients proposed by Lentz and Chapman, vorticity conservation is not satisfied and the nonlinear momentum transport estimated by the solution linearly increases with S, asymptotically matching Lentz and Chapman for S < 1. When the solution conserves interior potential vorticity, the momentum transport is proportional to S 2 for S < 1 and is in better agreement with numerical simulations.

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Shuiqing Li

Abstract

The wind drag on the sea surface is characterized by the aerodynamic roughness of the sea surface, z 0, which is regulated by surface wind waves. Many studies have related the dimensionless form of z 0 to the wave age parameter estimated from spectral peak information. These parametric relationships have been well developed for the wind-driven sea but not for mixed seas. Based on an analysis using observations from a fixed platform in the northern South China Sea, the deficiency of the spectral peak information in the parametric description z 0 when swells dominate is indicated. Instead, a consistent parametric description of z 0 can be obtained by using the wave age estimated from the mean wave period, and normalizing z 0 by the mean wavelength. Normalizing z 0 by the significant wave height introduces a spurious residual dependence of z 0 on the wave steepness. A parametric relationship is developed between the dimensionless z 0 (normalized by the mean wavelength) and the wave age from the mean wave period. A comparison of this new relationship to the wind-speed-only formulation in COARE 3.5 is provided.

Significance Statement

In this paper, a consistent parametric description of the wave age dependence of the surface aerodynamic roughness is presented, with a wide range of sea states from dominant wind-driven seas to mixed seas in which the swells are dominant.

Open access
Min Wang
,
Xiao-Hua Zhu
,
Hua Zheng
,
Juntian Chen
,
Zhao-Jun Liu
,
Qiang Ren
,
Yansong Liu
,
Feng Nan
,
Fei Yu
, and
Qiang Li

Abstract

Using a large-scale observation array of 27 simultaneous pressure-recording inverted echo sounders (PIESs), the standing wave features of the mode-1 M2 internal tide west of the Luzon Strait (LS) were identified. These features exhibited nonmonotonic spatial phase shifts and half-wavelength amplitude modulation, resulting in spatially varying amplitudes under PIES observations, which have not been previously observed in field observations west of the LS. Satellite altimeter measurements also identified standing-wave patterns consistent with the PIES observations. These patterns emanated from interference between the northwestward and southeastward beams from the LS and the slope of the southern Taiwan Strait, respectively. Near the LS, the two beams superimposed into partial standing waves, whereas the superimposed waves tended to become perfect standing waves near the slope of the southern Taiwan Strait. The nodes and antinodes of the wave shifted under the influence of an anticyclonic eddy. The eddy-induced background current modified the phase speed of the internal tides, and the superimposed standing-wave nodes and antinodes deflected clockwise. The node shifted during three anticyclonic eddy events, and two stations on two sides of the wave node showed opposite variations in amplitude.

Significance Statement

The internal tidal constituent (M2) propagating in opposite directions can result in standing waves, which have been frequently observed in global oceans but were absent west of the Luzon Strait (LS). Our observations (based on a large-scale array west of the LS) discovered a standing M2 internal tide, which stems from interference between the northwestward beams emanating from the LS and southeastward beams from the slope of the southern Taiwan Strait. Anticyclonic eddies play important roles in adjusting the amplitude of internal tides by deflecting the standing-wave nodes and antinodes clockwise. The study facilitates the understanding of the energy distribution and mixing processes west of the LS and provides a fresh perspective on the dynamic relationship between mesoscale perturbations and internal tides.

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Alejandro Cáceres-Euse
,
Veronica Morales-Márquez
, and
Anne Molcard

Abstract

This study analyzes horizontal and vertical wind-driven circulation responses in small semienclosed bays, the associated offshore dynamic conditions, and the relative importance of each term in the momentum balance equations using a multiplatform observational system. The observational platform consists of three ADCPs and a land-based radar monitoring the velocity field within the bay and in the contiguous offshore area. The wind-driven patterns in the bay can switch from a barotropic cyclonic or anticyclonic circulation to a two-layer baroclinic mode response as a function of the wind regime (its direction and magnitude). For the baroclinic mode, the vertical location of the inflection point in the velocity profile can vary according to the proximity of the boundary current to the entrance of the bay. The influence of offshore combined meteorological and marine conditions on the inner-bay dynamics is evidenced under moderate to strong wind conditions and is almost nonexistent under negligible wind. The momentum balance analysis as well as the nondimensional numbers evidence the impact of wind stress, coastline shape, stratification, and the nonlinear advective terms. Advection can be at the same order of magnitude as pressure gradient, Coriolis, or wind stress terms and can be greater than the bottom stress terms. The nonlinear terms in the momentum equations are frequently neglected when analyzing wind-driven circulation by means of in situ data or analytical models.

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Leah Johnson
,
Baylor Fox-Kemper
,
Qing Li
,
Hieu T. Pham
, and
Sutanu Sarkar

Abstract

This work evaluates the fidelity of various upper-ocean turbulence parameterizations subject to realistic monsoon forcing and presents a finite-time ensemble vector (EV) method to better manage the design and numerical principles of these parameterizations. The EV method emphasizes the dynamics of a turbulence closure multimodel ensemble and is applied to evaluate 10 different ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) parameterizations within a single-column (SC) model against two boundary layer large-eddy simulations (LES). Both LES include realistic surface forcing, but one includes wind-driven shear turbulence only, while the other includes additional Stokes forcing through the wave-average equations that generate Langmuir turbulence. The finite-time EV framework focuses on what constitutes the local behavior of the mixed layer dynamical system and isolates the forcing and ocean state conditions where turbulence parameterizations most disagree. Identifying disagreement provides the potential to evaluate SC models comparatively against the LES. Observations collected during the 2018 monsoon onset in the Bay of Bengal provide a case study to evaluate models under realistic and variable forcing conditions. The case study results highlight two regimes where models disagree 1) during wind-driven deepening of the mixed layer and 2) under strong diurnal forcing.

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Lei Han

Abstract

The continuous, moored observation revealed significant variability in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). The cause of such AMOC variability is an extensively studied subject. This study focuses on the short-term variability, which ranges up to seasonal and interannual time scales. A mechanism is proposed from the perspective of ocean water redistribution by layers. By offering explanations for four phenomena of AMOC variability in the subtropical and tropical oceans (seasonality, meridional coherence, layered-transport compensation as observed at 26.5°N, and the 2009/10 downturn that occurred at 26.5°N), this mechanism suggests that the short-term AMOC variabilities in the entire subtropical and tropical regions are governed by a basinwide adiabatic water redistribution process, or the so-called sloshing dynamics, rather than diapycnal processes.

Significance Statement

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a key component in the global climate system due to its immense power in redistributing heat meridionally, which contributes to the hospitable climate of the United Kingdom and western Europe. Therefore, any changes in AMOC can have significant impacts on both global and local climate variability. Here I propose a mechanism to explain the short-term (up to interannual) AMOC variability in the subtropical and tropical regions from the perspective of ocean water redistribution. This mechanism suggests that the short-term variability of AMOC strength is dominated by an adiabatic process, and thus, its large-amplitude variation is mostly a reversible process. In other words, AMOC may be more resilient to short-term variability than previously believed, and it could recover autonomously from the abrupt changes.

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