Browse

You are looking at 131 - 140 of 8,524 items for :

  • Journal of Physical Oceanography x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All
Eric P. Chassignet
,
Xiaobiao Xu
,
Alexandra Bozec
, and
Takaya Uchida

Abstract

The potential role of the New England seamount chain (NESC) on the Gulf Stream pathway and variability has been long recognized, and the series of numerical experiments presented in this paper further emphasize the importance of properly resolving the NESC when modeling the Gulf Stream. The NESC has a strong impact on the Gulf Stream pathway and variability, as demonstrated by comparison experiments with and without the NESC. With the NESC removed from the model bathymetry, the Gulf Stream remains a stable coherent jet much farther east than in the experiment with the NESC. The NESC is the leading factor destabilizing the Gulf Stream and, when it is not properly resolved by the model’s grid, its impact on the Gulf Stream’s pathway and variability is surprisingly large. A high-resolution bathymetry, which better resolves the New England seamounts (i.e., narrower and rising higher in the water column), leads to a tighter Gulf Stream mean path that better agrees with the observed path and a sea surface height variability distribution that is in excellent agreement with the observations.

Open access
Mingyue Liu
,
Ru Chen
,
Glenn R. Flierl
,
Wenting Guan
,
Hong Zhang
, and
Qianqian Geng

Abstract

For eddy-permitting climate models, only eddies smaller than the smallest resolvable scale need to be parameterized. Therefore, it is important to study the diffusivities induced by eddies smaller than a specific separation scale L *, that is, the scale-dependent eddy diffusivities. Using a submesoscale-permitting model solution (MITgcm llc4320), we estimate the scale-dependent eddy diffusivity in the Kuroshio Extension. We find that, as the separation scale L * increases, the diffusivity increases, and the spatial structure approaches that of the total eddy diffusivity. We quantify this scale dependence through fitting the diffusivity to L * n . Our derivation shows that n is approximately (a + 1)/2, where a is the eddy kinetic energy spectral slope. For domain-averaged diffusivity, n is 1.33. We then extend four existing mixing theories by including scale dependence. Our results show that both of the theories designed for intense-jet regions, the suppressed mixing length theory and the multiwavenumber theory, closely match the magnitude of the scale-dependent diffusivity but fail to capture well the diffusivity’s spatial structure. However, the other two theories based on eddy size and Rhines scale can reasonably represent the spatial structure. Based on this finding, we propose an empirical formula for scale-dependent eddy diffusivity that well represents both the magnitude and the spatial structure of the eddy diffusivity. Our work demonstrates that climate models should use scale-dependent diffusivity, and designing appropriate empirical formulas may be a reasonable approach to represent these scale-dependent diffusivities. Also, our diagnostic framework and theories for scale-dependent eddy diffusivity may be applicable to the global ocean.

Open access
Leif N. Thomas
,
Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
Luc Rainville
,
Verena Hormann
,
Luca Centurioni
,
James N. Moum
,
Olivier Asselin
, and
Craig M. Lee

Abstract

Along with boundary layer turbulence, downward radiation of near-inertial waves (NIWs) damps inertial oscillations (IOs) in the surface ocean; however, the latter can also energize abyssal mixing. Here we present observations made from a dipole vortex in the Iceland Basin where, after the period of direct wind forcing, IOs lost over half their kinetic energy (KE) in two inertial periods to radiation of NIWs with minimal turbulent dissipation of KE. The dipole’s vorticity gradient led to a rapid reduction in the NIW’s lateral wavelength via ζ refraction that was accompanied by isopycnal undulations below the surface mixed layer. Pressure anomalies associated with the undulations were correlated with the NIW’s velocity yielding an energy flux of 310 mW m−2 pointed antiparallel to the vorticity gradient and a downward flux of 1 mW m−2 capable of driving the observed drop in KE. The minimal role of turbulence in the energetics after the IOs had been generated by the winds was confirmed using a large-eddy simulation driven by the observed winds.

Significance Statement

We report direct observational estimates of the vector wave energy flux of a near-inertial wave. The energy flux points from high to low vorticity in the horizontal, consistent with the theory of ζ refraction. The downward energy flux dominates the observed damping of inertial motions over turbulent dissipation and mixing.

Open access
Qi Quan
,
Zhiqiang Liu
,
Huijie Xue
,
Jianyu Hu
,
Qiang Wang
,
Han Zhang
,
Xiaohui Liu
,
Guangzhen Jin
, and
Ya Ping Wang

Abstract

Using observations and theoretical models, a substantial topographic modulation on the quasigeostrophic (QG) dynamics, which results in a primary surface mode distinct from the classic first baroclinic (BC1) mode with a flat bottom, is revealed in the northern South China Sea (NSCS). In contrast to open oceans, the surface-intensified modes decay downward more rapidly over the continental slope of the NSCS, with a mean e-folding scale of approximately 1/5 of water depth. The subinertial flow variability appears to be vertically incoherent, with planetary and topographic Rossby waves dominating in the upper and deep layers, respectively. With a larger deformation radius (Rd ), the surface-mode Rossby waves propagate at a phase speed ∼1.5 times of that of the BC1 mode. Moreover, the modal structures can be substantially modified by seasonal NSCS circulation, which is significantly enhanced over continental slopes. Analysis of the triad interactions further implies that the short waves tend to transfer energy to larger scales via the inverse cascade and only those with wavelengths larger than Rd ≈ 70 km in the NSCS can persist because of a slower unstable growth rate but a higher fraction of upscale energy transfer. The present theory excludes the bottom-trapped mode, which is closely associated with topographic Rossby waves and is observed to be significant in the abyssal NSCS. Hence, a complete normal-mode basis for any QG state is required for a study that focuses on flow variability throughout the water column. Our findings provide an insight into the vertical partition of horizontal kinetic energy for QG motions, as well as the relevant oceanic variation in marginal seas.

Restricted access
Free access
Xianxian Han
,
Andrew L. Stewart
,
Dake Chen
,
Xiaohui Liu
, and
Tao Lian

Abstract

Antarctic Bottom Water is primarily formed via overflows of dense shelf water (DSW) around the Antarctic continental margins. The dynamics of these overflows therefore influence the global abyssal stratification and circulation. Previous studies indicate that dense overflows can be unstable, energizing topographic Rossby waves (TRW) over the continental slope. However, it remains unclear how the wavelength and frequency of the TRWs are related to the properties of the overflowing DSW and other environmental conditions, and how the TRW properties influence the downslope transport of DSW. This study uses idealized high-resolution numerical simulations to investigate the dynamics of overflow-forced TRWs and the associated downslope transport of DSW. It is shown that the propagation of TRWs is constrained by the geostrophic along-slope flow speed of the DSW and by the dynamics of linear plane waves, allowing the wavelength and frequency of the waves to be predicted a priori. The rate of downslope DSW transport depends nonmonotonically on the slope steepness: steep slopes approximately suppress TRW formation, resulting in steady, frictionally dominated DSW descent. For slopes of intermediate steepness, the overflow becomes unstable and generates TRWs, accompanied by interfacial form stresses that drive DSW downslope relatively rapidly. For gentle slopes, the TRWs lead to the formation of coherent eddies that inhibit downslope DSW transport. These findings may explain the variable properties of TRWs observed in oceanic overflows, and they imply that the rate at which DSW descends to the abyssal ocean depends sensitively on the manifestation of TRWs and/or nonlinear eddies over the continental slope.

Restricted access
Samuel Brenner
,
Jim Thomson
,
Luc Rainville
,
Laura Crews
, and
Craig M. Lee

Abstract

Observations of sea ice and the upper ocean from three moorings in the Beaufort Sea quantify atmosphere–ice–ocean momentum transfer, with a particular focus on the inertial-frequency response. Seasonal variations in the strength of mixed layer (ML) inertial oscillations suggest that sea ice damps momentum transfer from the wind to the ocean, such that the oscillation strength is minimal under sea ice cover. In contrast, the net Ekman transport is unimpacted by the presence of sea ice. The mooring measurements are interpreted with a simplified one-dimensional ice–ocean coupled “slab” model. The model results provide insight into the drivers of the inertial seasonality: namely, that a combination of both sea ice internal stress and ocean ML depth contribute to the seasonal variability of inertial surface currents and inertial sea ice drift, while under-ice roughness does not. Furthermore, the importance of internal stress in damping inertial oscillations is different at each mooring, with a minimal influence at the southernmost mooring (within the seasonal ice zone) and more influence at the northernmost mooring. As the Arctic shifts to a more seasonal sea ice regime, changes in sea ice cover and sea ice internal strength may impact inertial-band ice–ocean coupling and allow for an increase in wind forcing to the ocean.

Open access
Je-Yuan Hsu

Abstract

The relationship between the wind-wave spectrum and surface wind stress τ in tropical cyclones, especially for the misalignment |ϕ| between the wind and τ , was investigated using data from three Electromagnetic Autonomous Profiling Explorer (EM-APEX) floats deployed in Super Typhoon Megi (2010). The floats measured τ by integrating downward momentum flux in the ocean and, in a recent development, directional spectra of surface waves. The wind was captured by aircraft surveys. At wind speeds from 25 to 40 m s−1, the |ϕ| increased with the increasing angle between the wind and dominant waves. The |ϕ| was small near the eyewall, where wave energy concentrated in a narrow frequency band. At the location far away from the eyewall, where most spectra were bimodal in directions with similar frequencies, the stress direction might be similar to the high-frequency waves. The misalignment between the wind and propagating swell might affect the growth and directional spreading of wind waves under tropical cyclones. The resulting wave breaking might then release wave momentum into the ocean as most stress clockwise from the wind direction. C , the downwind drag coefficient, increased with increasing inverse wave age of dominant waves. |C |, the magnitude of the crosswind drag coefficient, was significant when low-frequency waves deviated from the wind by more than 90°. The wave directions are used in the inverse wave age for scaling drag coefficients. The new parameterization based on wave dynamics can be useful for improving the prediction of wind stress curl under storms.

Significance Statement

Tropical cyclones can impact the maximum sea surface temperature cooling through the curl of surface wind stress τ , which causes divergence under the storm eye. To investigate the effect of surface waves on τ , measurements of downward momentum flux and surface waves from three EM-APEX floats deployed under Typhoon Megi in 2010 are used. The inverse wave age involving wind forcing on the wave directions of dominant waves and swells can significantly influence the momentum transfer efficiency in the downwind and crosswind directions, respectively. That is, the propagating swell under storms should play a crucial role in the downward momentum flux during its interaction with high-frequency waves and wind. Incorporating wave directions to parameterize the magnitude and orientation of τ will improve future models’ ability to predict wind stress curl and thereby the heat fluxes to storm intensification.

Restricted access
Mason Rogers
,
Raffaele Ferrari
, and
Louis-Philippe Nadeau

Abstract

The Indo-Pacific Ocean appears exponentially stratified between 1- and 3-km depth with a decay scale on the order of 1 km. In his celebrated paper “Abyssal recipes,” W. Munk proposed a theoretical explanation of these observations by suggesting a pointwise buoyancy balance between the upwelling of cold water and the downward diffusion of heat. Assuming a constant upwelling velocity w and turbulent diffusivity κ, the model yields an exponential stratification whose decay scale is consistent with observations if κ ∼ 10−4 m2 s−1. Over time, much effort has been made to reconcile Munk’s ideas with evidence of vertical variability in κ, but comparably little emphasis has been placed on the even stronger evidence that w decays toward the surface. In particular, the basin-averaged w nearly vanishes at 1-km depth in the Indo-Pacific. In light of this evidence, we consider a variable-coefficient, basin-averaged analog of Munk’s budget, which we verify against a hierarchy of numerical models ranging from an idealized basin-and-channel configuration to a coarse global ocean simulation. Study of the budget reveals that the decay of basin-averaged w requires a concurrent decay in basin-averaged κ to produce an exponential-like stratification. As such, the frequently cited value of 10−4 m2 s−1 is representative only of the bottom of the middepths, whereas κ must be much smaller above. The decay of mixing in the vertical is as important to the stratification as its magnitude.

Significance Statement

Using a combination of theory and numerical simulations, it is argued that the observed magnitude and shape of the global ocean stratification and overturning circulation appear to demand that turbulent mixing increases quasi-exponentially toward the ocean bottom. Climate models must therefore prescribe such a vertical profile of turbulent mixing in order to properly represent the heat and carbon uptake accomplished by the global overturning circulation on centennial and longer time scales.

Restricted access
Xiaomei Yan
,
Dujuan Kang
,
Enrique N. Curchitser
,
Xiaohui Liu
,
Chongguang Pang
, and
Linlin Zhang

Abstract

The seasonal variability of the eddy kinetic energy (EKE) along the Kuroshio Current (KC) is examined using outputs from an eddy-resolving (1/10°) ocean model. Using a theoretical framework for climatological monthly mean EKE, the mechanisms governing the seasonal cycle of upper-ocean EKE are investigated. East of Taiwan, the EKE shows two comparable peaks in spring and summer in the surface layer; only the spring one is evident in the subsurface layer. The seasonality is determined by mixed barotropic (BTI) and baroclinic (BCI) instabilities. Northeast of Taiwan, the EKE is also elevated during spring–summer but with a sole peak in summer, which is dominated by the meridional EKE advection by the KC. In the middle part of the KC in the East China Sea, the mesoscale (>150 km) EKE (EKEMS) is relatively strong during spring–summer, whereas the submesoscale (50–150 km) EKE (EKESM) is significantly enhanced during winter–spring. The seasonal cycles of EKEMS and EKESM are primarily controlled by the external forcing and BCI, respectively. In particular, the higher EKEMS level in summer is mainly due to the increased wind work. West of the Tokara Strait, the EKE exhibits a prominent peak in winter and has its minimum in summer, which is regulated by the BCI. As the submesoscale signals are partially resolved by the model, further studies with higher-resolution simulations and observations are needed for a better understanding of the EKESM seasonality and its contribution to the seasonally modulating EKEMS along the KC.

Restricted access