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Erica Rosenblum
,
Julienne Stroeve
,
Sarah T. Gille
,
Camille Lique
,
Robert Fajber
,
L. Bruno Tremblay
,
Ryan Galley
,
Thiago Loureiro
,
David G. Barber
, and
Jennifer V. Lukovich

Abstract

The Arctic seasonal halocline impacts the exchange of heat, energy, and nutrients between the surface and the deeper ocean, and it is changing in response to Arctic sea ice melt over the past several decades. Here, we assess seasonal halocline formation in 1975 and 2006–12 by comparing daily, May–September, salinity profiles collected in the Canada Basin under sea ice. We evaluate differences between the two time periods using a one-dimensional (1D) bulk model to quantify differences in freshwater input and vertical mixing. The 1D metrics indicate that two separate factors contribute similarly to stronger stratification in 2006–12 relative to 1975: 1) larger surface freshwater input and 2) less vertical mixing of that freshwater. The larger freshwater input is mainly important in August–September, consistent with a longer melt season in recent years. The reduced vertical mixing is mainly important from June until mid-August, when similar levels of freshwater input in 1975 and 2006–12 are mixed over a different depth range, resulting in different stratification. These results imply that decadal changes to ice–ocean dynamics, in addition to freshwater input, significantly contribute to the stronger seasonal stratification in 2006–12 relative to 1975. These findings highlight the need for near-surface process studies to elucidate the impact of lateral processes and ice–ocean momentum exchange on vertical mixing. Moreover, the results may provide insight for improving the representation of decadal changes to Arctic upper-ocean stratification in climate models that do not capture decadal changes to vertical mixing.

Open access
Tong Bo
and
David K. Ralston

Abstract

Idealized numerical simulations were conducted to investigate the influence of channel curvature on estuarine stratification and mixing. Stratification is decreased and tidal energy dissipation is increased in sinuous estuaries compared to straight channel estuaries. We applied a vertical salinity variance budget to quantify the influence of straining and mixing on stratification. Secondary circulation due to the channel curvature is found to affect stratification in sinuous channels through both lateral straining and enhanced vertical mixing. Alternating negative and positive lateral straining occur in meanders upstream and downstream of the bend apex, respectively, corresponding to the normal and reversed secondary circulation with curvature. The vertical mixing is locally enhanced in curved channels with the maximum mixing located upstream of the bend apex. Bend-scale bottom salinity fronts are generated near the inner bank upstream of the bend apex as a result of interaction between the secondary flow and stratification. Shear mixing at bottom fronts, instead of overturning mixing by the secondary circulation, provides the dominant mechanism for destruction of stratification. Channel curvature can also lead to increased drag, and using a Simpson number with this increased drag coefficient can relate the decrease in stratification with curvature to the broader estuarine parameter space.

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Manita Chouksey
,
Carsten Eden
, and
Dirk Olbers

Abstract

The generation of internal gravity waves from an initially geostrophically balanced flow is diagnosed in nonhydrostatic numerical simulations of shear instabilities for varied dynamical regimes. A nonlinear decomposition method up to third order in the Rossby number (Ro) is used as the diagnostic tool for a consistent separation of the balanced and unbalanced motions in the presence of their nonlinear coupling. Wave emission is investigated in an Eady-like and a jet-like flow. For the jet-like case, geostrophic and ageostrophic unstable modes are used to initialize the flow in different simulations. Gravity wave emission is in general very weak over a range of values for Ro. At sufficiently high Ro, however, when the condition for symmetric instability is satisfied with negative values of local potential vorticity, significant wave emission is detected even at the lowest order. This is related to the occurrence of fast ageostrophic instability modes, generating a wide spectrum of waves. Thus, gravity waves are excited from the instability of the balanced mode to lowest order only if the condition of symmetric instability is satisfied and ageostrophic unstable modes obtain finite growth rates.

Significance Statement

We aim to understand the generation of internal gravity waves in the atmosphere and ocean from a flow field that is initially balanced, i.e., free from any internal gravity waves. To examine this process, we use simulations from idealized numerical models and nonlinear flow decomposition method to identify waves. Our results show that a prominent mechanism by which waves can be generated is related to symmetric or ageostrophic instabilities of the balanced flow possibly occurring during frontogenesis. This process can be a significant mechanism to dissipate the energy of the geostrophic flow in the ocean.

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Giulio Passerotti
,
Luke G. Bennetts
,
Franz von Bock und Polach
,
Alberto Alberello
,
Otto Puolakka
,
Azam Dolatshah
,
Jaak Monbaliu
, and
Alessandro Toffoli

Abstract

Irregular, unidirectional surface water waves incident on model ice in an ice tank are used as a physical model of ocean surface wave interactions with sea ice. Results are given for an experiment consisting of three tests, starting with a continuous ice cover and in which the incident wave steepness increases between tests. The incident waves range from causing no breakup of the ice cover to breakup of the full length of ice cover. Temporal evolution of the ice edge, breaking front, and mean floe sizes are reported. Floe size distributions in the different tests are analyzed. The evolution of the wave spectrum with distance into the ice-covered water is analyzed in terms of changes of energy content, mean wave period, and spectral bandwidth relative to their incident counterparts, and pronounced differences are found between the tests. Further, an empirical attenuation coefficient is derived from the measurements and shown to have a power-law dependence on frequency comparable to that found in field measurements. Links between wave properties and ice breakup are discussed.

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Yizhak Feliks
,
Hezi Gildor
, and
Nadav Mantel

Abstract

The intraseasonal oscillations (ISOs) in sea currents in the eastern Mediterranean Sea near the central coast of Israel were analyzed by examining the velocity components of the sea currents at different depths as measured by acoustic Doppler current profilers located at various depths between 0 and 675 m. The total period covered by the observations was from December 2016 to May 2018. Prominent intraseasonal oscillations, much stronger than tidal velocity components, were observed in the upper part of the sea, at 30–70 m. The amplitudes of these oscillations are between 4 and 10 cm s−1 and their periods are 7, 11, 22, and 34–36 days. The strongest oscillations are found in the boreal winter. The ISOs in the sea currents were apparently induced by corresponding oscillations found in atmospheric wind velocity over the eastern Mediterranean at the surface and at 500 and 250 hPa, as suggested by the high correlations, 0.6–0.9, between the wind velocity components of the oscillatory modes in the atmosphere and the velocity component of the oscillatory modes in the sea currents with similar periods. We propose that the source of the ISOs in the atmosphere over the eastern Mediterranean is the South Asian jet wave train. The track of this wave train passes over the eastern Mediterranean, and the periods of the ISOs in the wave train are in the same band as the oscillations found here. The wave train is equivalently barotropic and strongest in the upper troposphere. This property of the wave train can explain the high correlation found between the oscillatory modes of wind velocity at 250 or 500 hPa and those in the sea currents. In all the cases besides the 7-day oscillatory mode, the significant oscillatory modes found at 250 or 500 hPa are also significant in the velocity components of the surface wind.

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Leonel Romero
and
Kabir Lubana

Abstract

We present an investigation of the azimuthal bimodality of the wind-wave spectrum for waves shorter than the dominant scale comparing numerical model solutions of developing waves from idealized experiments using WAVEWATCH III (WW3). The wave solutions were forced with the “exact” Webb–Resio–Tracy (WRT) nonlinear energy fluxes and the direct interaction approximation (DIA) with three different combinations of wind input and breaking dissipation parameterizations. The WRT gives larger azimuthal bimodal amplitudes compared to the DIA regardless of wind input/dissipation. The widely used wind input/dissipation parameterizations (i.e., ST4 and ST6) generally give narrow directional distributions with relatively small bimodal amplitudes and lobe separations compared to field measurements. These biases are significantly improved by the breaking dissipation of Romero (R2019). Moreover, the ratio of the resolved cross- to downwind mean square slope is significantly lower for ST4 and ST6 compared to R2019. The overlap integral relevant for the prediction of microseisms is several orders of magnitude smaller for ST4 and ST6 compared to R2019, which nearly agrees with a semiempirical model.

Significance Statement

Spectral gravity wave models generally cannot accurately predict the directional distribution which impacts their ability to predict the resolved down- and crosswind mean square slopes and the generation of microseisms. Our analysis shows that a directionally narrow spectral energy dissipation, accounting for long-wave–short-wave modulation, can significantly improve the directional distribution of the wind-wave spectrum by coupling to the nonlinear energy fluxes due to wave–wave interactions, which has important implications for improved predictions of the mean square slopes and the generation of microseisms.

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Lorine Behr
,
Niklas Luther
,
Simon A. Josey
,
Jürg Luterbacher
,
Sebastian Wagner
, and
Elena Xoplaki

Abstract

Accurate representation of the Atlantic–Mediterranean exchange in climate models is important for a reliable simulation of the circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean. We evaluate the performance of 10 global climate models in representing Mediterranean Overflow Water (MOW) over the recent period 1986–2005 by using various performance metrics. The metrics are based on the representation of the climatological mean state and the spatiotemporal variability of temperature, salinity, and volume transports. On the basis of analyses and observations, we perform a model ranking by calculating absolute, relative, and total relative errors Ej over each performance metric and model. The majority of models simulate at least six metrics well. The equilibrium depth of the MOW, the mean Atlantic–Mediterranean exchange flow, and the dominant pattern of the MOW are represented reasonably well by most of the models. Of those models considered, MPI-ESM-MR, MPI-ESM-LR, CSIRO Mk3.6.0, and MRI-CGCM3 provide the best MOW representation (Ej = 0.14, 0.19, 0.19, and 0.25, respectively). They are thus likely to be the most suitable choices for studies of MOW-dependent processes. However, the models experience salinity, temperature, and transport biases and do not represent temporal variability accurately. The implications of our results for future model analysis of the Mediterranean Sea overflow are discussed.

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Qing Qin
,
Zhaomin Wang
,
Chengyan Liu
, and
Chen Cheng

Abstract

Extensive studies have addressed the characteristics and mechanisms of open-ocean polynyas in the Weddell and Cosmonaut Seas. Here, we show that more persistent open-ocean polynyas occur in the Cooperation Sea (CS) (60°–90°E), a sector of the Southern Ocean off the Prydz Bay continental shelf, between 2002 and 2019. Polynyas are formed annually mainly within the 62°–65°S band, as identified by sea ice concentrations less than 0.7. The polynyas usually began to emerge in April and expanded to large sizes during July–October, with sizes often larger than those of the Maud Rise polynya in 2017. The annual maximum size of polynyas ranged from 115.3 × 103 km2 in 2013 to 312.4 × 103 km2 in 2010, with an average value of 188.9 × 103 km2. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) travels closer to the continental shelf and brings the upper circumpolar deep water to much higher latitudes in the CS than in most other sectors; cyclonic ocean circulations often develop between the ACC and the Antarctic Slope Current, with many of them being associated with local topographic features and dense water cascading. These oceanic preconditions, along with cyclonic wind forcing in the Antarctic Divergence zone, generated polynyas in the CS. These findings offer a more complete circumpolar view of open-ocean polynyas in the Southern Ocean and have implications for physical, biological, and biogeochemical studies of the Southern Ocean. Future efforts should be particularly devoted to more extensively observing the ocean circulation to understand the variability of open-ocean polynyas in the CS.

Significance Statement

An open-ocean polynya is an offshore area of open water or low sea ice cover surrounded by pack ice. Open-ocean polynyas are important for driving the physical, biogeochemical, and biological processes in the Southern Ocean. Extensive studies have addressed the characteristics and mechanisms of open-ocean polynyas in the Weddell and Cosmonaut Seas. The purpose of this study is to document the existence of more persistent open-ocean polynyas in the Cooperation Sea (60°–90°E) and explore the atmospheric and oceanic forcing mechanisms responsible for the formation of the open-ocean polynyas. Our results would offer a more complete circumpolar view of open-ocean polynyas in the Southern Ocean and have implications for physical, biological, and biogeochemical studies of the Southern Ocean.

Open access
Lichuan Wu
,
Øyvind Breivik
, and
Fangli Qiao

Abstract

The momentum flux to the ocean interior is commonly assumed to be identical to the momentum flux lost from the atmosphere in traditional atmosphere, ocean, and coupled models. However, ocean surface gravity waves (hereafter waves) can alter the magnitude and direction of the ocean-side stress ( τ oc) from the air-side stress ( τ a ). This is rarely considered in coupled climate and forecast models. Based on a 30-yr wave hindcast, the redistribution of the global wind stress and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) flux by waves was investigated. Waves play a more important role in the windy oceans in middle and high latitudes than that in the oceans in the tropics (i.e., the central portion of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans). On average, the relative difference between τ oc and τ a , γ τ , can be up to 6% in middle and high latitudes. The frequency of occurrence of γ τ > 9% can be up to 10% in the windy extratropics. The directional difference between τ oc and τ a exceeds 3.5° in the middle and high latitudes 10% of the time. The difference between τ oc and τ a becomes more significant closer to the coasts of the continents due to strong wind gradients. The friction velocity-based approach overestimates (underestimates) the breaking-induced TKE flux in the tropics (middle and high latitudes). The findings presented in the current study show that coupled climate and Earth system models would clearly benefit from the inclusion of a wave model.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to investigate the redistribution of the global wind stress and turbulent kinetic energy flux due to surface waves based on a 30-yr wave hindcast. The mean relative difference of the magnitude between the air-side and ocean-side stress is up to 6% with a 90th percentile of more than 9% in the windy extratropics. Due to strong wind gradients, the redistributive role of waves in the stress becomes more significant closer to coasts. The results indicate that we should consider the redistributive role of waves in the momentum and energy fluxes in climate and Earth system models since they are the key elements in the predictability of weather forecasting models and climate models.

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Manita Chouksey
,
Alexa Griesel
,
Carsten Eden
, and
Reiner Steinfeldt

Abstract

Transit time distributions (TTDs) for the Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) in the South Atlantic Ocean are estimated from an eddying ocean model with a twofold scope: validation of the TTD method and identifying pathways of the AAIW. The TTDs are inferred both from Lagrangian particle backtracking and the modeled CFC-11 concentrations, under the assumption that the TTDs can be described with an inverse Gaussian function. A bimodal distribution is obtained for the Lagrangian TTDs with four major subduction regions identified: near the Agulhas retroflection, south of New Zealand, west of the Drake Passage (smallest mean age Γ = 13 years), and in the Argentine basin (largest mean age Γ = 25 years). With the Southern Ocean as source region, the inverse Gaussian is a reasonable representation for the TTDs in the eastern Atlantic basin (40°–35°S, 0°–20°E), whereas the fit for region west (40°–35°S, 60°–40°W) of the mid-Atlantic ridge is not as good and overestimates the TTDs for transit times < 15 years. Mean ages from the modeled CFC-11 are mostly larger (up to 12 years) in the eastern Atlantic basin, and they are mostly smaller than the Lagrangian mean ages in the west. Both methods yield mean ages smaller in the western than in the eastern Atlantic basin and an aging of AAIW from the 1990s to the 2000s that is consistent with reduced flow velocities. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current appears to be the prime determinant of the transit times. The results suggest that the inverse Gaussian, despite assuming 1D advection–diffusion with constant mean flow and diffusivity, is a surprisingly good fit.

Significance Statement

In this article, we assess the transit time distribution method, often used to estimate anthropogenic carbon uptake in the ocean from observations, thereby exploring particle pathways from the surface into the ocean interior in the South Atlantic Ocean. We track thousands of particles in a model from their point of origin near the surface to the ocean interior. The tracking reveals multiple routes and gives the actual travel time of these particles, which we compare with the travel times predicted by theory. Thus, this research deepens our understanding of the routes and travel times of the water particles, which is important for the ocean circulation, and provides insights to improve the methods to infer anthropogenic carbon uptake, storage, and transport.

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