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Mohammad Hadi Bordbar, Volker Mohrholz, and Martin Schmidt

Abstract

Spatial and temporal variations of nutrient-rich upwelled water across the major eastern boundary upwelling systems are primarily controlled by the surface wind with different, and sometimes contrasting, impacts on coastal upwelling systems driven by alongshore wind and offshore upwelling systems driven by the local wind-stress-curl. Here, concurrently measured wind-fields, satellite-derived Chlorophyll-a concentration along with a state-of-the-art ocean model simulation spanning 2008-2018 are used to investigate the connection between coastal and offshore physical drivers of the Benguela Upwelling System (BUS). Our results indicate that the spatial structure of long-term mean upwelling derived from Ekman theory and the numerical model are fairly consistent across the entire BUS and closely followed by the Chlorophyll-a pattern. The variability of the upwelling from the Ekman theory is proportionally diminished with offshore distance, whereas different and sometimes opposite structures are revealed in the model-derived upwelling. Our result suggests the presence of sub-mesoscale activity (i.e., filaments and eddies) across the entire BUS with a large modulating effect on the wind-stress-curl-driven upwelling off Lüderitz and Walvis Bay. In Kunene and Cape Frio upwelling cells, located in the northern sector of the BUS, the coastal upwelling and open-ocean upwelling frequently alternate each other, whereas they are modulated by the annual cycle and mostly in phase off Walvis Bay. Such a phase relationship appears to be strongly seasonally dependent off Lüderitz and across the southern BUS. Thus, our findings suggest this relationship is far more complex than currently thought and seems to be sensitive to climate changes with short- and far-reaching consequences for this vulnerable marine ecosystem.

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William G. Large, Edward G. Patton, and Peter P. Sullivan

Abstract

Empirical rules for both entrainment and detrainment are developed from LES of the Southern Ocean boundary layer when the turbulence, stratification and shear cannot be assumed to be in equilibrium with diurnal variability in surface flux and wave (Stokes drift) forcing. A major consequence is the failure of down-gradient eddy viscosity, which becomes more serious with Stokes drift and is overcome by relating the angle between the stress and shear vectors to the orientations of Lagrangian shear to the surface and of local Eulerian shear over five meters. Thus, the momentum flux can be parameterized as a stress magnitude and this empirical direction. In addition, the response of a deep boundary layer to sufficiently strong diurnal heating includes boundary layer collapse and the subsequent growth of a morning boundary layer, whose depth is empirically related to the time history of the forcing, as are both morning detrainment and afternoon entrainment into weak diurnal stratification. Below the boundary layer, detrainment rules give the maximum buoyancy flux and its depth, as well a specific stress direction. Another rule relates both afternoon and night-time entrainment depth and buoyancy flux to surface layer turbulent kinetic energy production integrals. These empirical relationships are combined with rules for boundary layer transport to formulate two parameterizations; one based on eddy diffusivity and viscosity profiles and another on flux profiles of buoyancy and of stress magnitude. Evaluations against LES fluxes show the flux profiles to be more representative of the diurnal cycle, especially with Stokes drift.

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Sultan Hameed, Christopher L. P. Wolfe, and Lequan Chi

Abstract

Previous work to find an association between variations of annually averaged Florida Current transport and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) have yielded negative results (Meinen et al. 2010). Here we show that Florida current in winter is impacted by displacements in the positions of the Azores High and the Icelandic Low, the constituent pressure centers of the NAO. As a one-dimensional representation of North Atlantic atmospheric circulation, the NAO index does not distinguish displacements of the pressure centers from fluctuations in their intensity. Florida Current transport is significantly correlated with Icelandic Low longitude with a lag of less than one season. We carried out perturbation experiments in the ECCOv4 model to investigate these correlations. These experiments reveal that east-west shifts of the Icelandic Low perturb the wind stress in mid-latitudes adjacent to the American coast, driving downwelling (through longshore winds) and offshore sea level anomalies (through wind stress curl) which travel to the Florida Straits within the same season. Florida Current transport is also correlated with the latitude variations of both the Icelandic Low and the Azores High with a lag of four years. Regression analysis shows that latitude variations of the Icelandic Low and the Azores High are associated with positive wind stress curl anomalies over extended regions in the ocean east of Florida. Rossby wave propagation from this region to the Florida Straits has been suggested as a mechanism for perturbing FCT transport in several previous studies (DiNezio et al. 2009; Czeschel et al. 2012; Frajka-Williams et al. 2013; Domingues et al. 2016, 2019).

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Shuo Li, Alexander V. Babanin, Fangli Qiao, Dejun Dai, Shumin Jiang, and Changlong Guan

Abstract

The CO 2 gas transfer velocity (KCO2) at air-sea interface is usually parameterized with the wind speed, but to a great extent is defined by waves and wave breaking. To investigate the direct relationship between KCO2 and waves, laboratory experiments are conducted in a wind-wave flume. Three types of waves are forced in the flume: modulational wave trains generated by a wave maker, wind waves with 10-meter wind speed ranging from 4.5 m/s to 15.5 m/s, and (mechanically-generated) modulational wave trains coupled with superimposed wind force. The wave height and wave orbital velocity are found to be well correlated with KCO2 while wind speed alone can not adequately describe KCO2. To reconcile the measurements, non-dimensional equations are established in which gas transfer velocity is expressed as a main function of wave parameters and an additional secondary factor to account for influence of the wind.

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Tobias Kukulka and Todd Thoman

Abstract

Dispersion processes in the ocean surface boundary layer (OSBL) determine marine material distributions such as those of plankton and pollutants. Sheared velocities drive shear dispersion, which is traditionally assumed to be due to mean horizontal currents that decrease from the surface. However, OSBL turbulence supports along-wind jets; located in near-surface convergence and downwelling regions, such turbulent jets contain strong local shear. Through wind-driven idealized and large eddy simulation (LES) models of the OSBL, this study examines the role of turbulent along-wind jets in dispersing material. In the idealized model, turbulent jets are generated by prescribed cellular flow with surface convergence and associated downwelling regions. Numeric and analytic model solutions reveal that horizontal jets substantially contribute to along-wind dispersion for sufficiently strong cellular flows and exceed contributions due to vertical mean shear for buoyant surface-trapped material. However, surface convergence regions also accumulate surface-trapped material, reducing shear dispersion by jets. Turbulence resolving LES results of a coastal depth-limited ocean agree qualitatively with the idealized model and reveal long-lived coherent jet structures that are necessary for effective jet dispersion. These coastal results indicate substantial jet contributions to along-wind dispersion. However, jet dispersion is likely less effective in the open ocean because jets are shorter lived, less organized, and distorted due to spiraling Ekman currents.

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Qingyang Song and Hidenori Aiki

Abstract

Intraseasonal waves in the tropical Atlantic Ocean have been found to carry prominent energy that affects interannual variability of zonal currents. This study investigates energy transfer and interaction of wind-driven intraseasonal waves using single-layer model experiments. Three sets of wind stress forcing at intraseasonal periods of around 30 days, 50 days and 80 days with a realistic horizontal distribution are employed separately to excite the second baroclinic mode in the tropical Atlantic. A unified scheme for calculating the energy flux, previously approximated and used for the diagnosis of annual Kelvin and Rossby waves, is utilized in the present study in its original form for intraseasonal waves. Zonal velocity anomalies by Kelvin waves dominate the 80-day scenario. Meridional velocity anomalies by Yanai waves dominate the 30-day scenario. In the 50-day scenario, the two waves have comparable magnitudes. The horizontal distribution of wave energy flux is revealed. In the 30-day and 50-day scenarios, a zonally alternating distribution of cross-equatorial wave energy flux is found. By checking an analytical solution excluding Kelvin waves, we confirm that the cross-equatorial flux is caused by the meridional transport of geopotential at the equator. This is attributed to the combination of Kelvin and Yanai waves and leads to the asymmetric distribution of wave energy in the central basin. Coastally-trapped Kelvin waves along the African coast are identified by along-shore energy flux. In the north, the bend of the Guinea coast leads the flux back to the equatorial basin. In the south, the Kelvin waves strengthened by local wind transfer the energy from the equatorial to Angolan regions.

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Jen-Ping Peng, Lars Umlauf, Julia Dräger-Dietel, and Ryan P. North

Abstract

Recent high-resolution numerical simulations have shown that the diurnal variability in the atmospheric forcing strongly affects the dynamics, stability, and turbulence of submesoscale structures in the surface boundary layer (SBL). Field observations supporting the real-ocean relevance of these studies are, however, largely lacking at the moment. Here, the impact of large diurnal variations in the surface heat flux on a dense submesoscale upwelling filament in the Benguela upwelling system is investigated, based on a combination of densely-spaced turbulence microstructure observations and surface drifter data. Our data show that during nighttime and early-morning conditions, when solar radiation is still weak, frontal turbulence is generated by a mix of symmetric and shear instability. In this situation, turbulent diapycnal mixing is approximately balanced by frontal restratification associated with the cross-front secondary circulation. During daytime, when solar radiation is close to its peak value, the SBL quickly restratifies, the conditions for frontal instability are no longer fulfilled, and SBL turbulence collapses except for a thin wind-driven layer near the surface. The drifter data suggest that inertial oscillations periodically modulate the stability characteristics and energetics of the submesoscale fronts bounding the filament.

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Luwei Yang, Maxim Nikurashin, Andrew McC. Hogg, and Bernadette M. Sloyan

Abstract

Lee waves play an important role in transferring energy from the geostrophic eddy field to turbulent mixing in the Southern Ocean. As such, lee waves can impact the Southern Ocean circulation and modulate its response to changing climate through their regulation on the eddy field and turbulent mixing. The drag effect of lee waves on the eddy field and the mixing effect of lee waves on the tracer field have been studied separately to show their importance. However, it remains unclear how the drag and mixing effects act together to modify the Southern Ocean circulation. In this study, a lee wave parameterization that includes both lee wave drag and its associated lee-wave-driven mixing is developed and implemented in an eddy-resolving idealized model of the Southern Ocean to simulate and quantify the impacts of lee waves on the Southern Ocean circulation. The results show that lee waves enhance the baroclinic transport of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and strengthen the lower overturning circulation. The impact of lee waves on the large-scale circulation are explained by the control of lee wave drag on isopycnal slopes through their effect on eddies, and by the control of lee-wave-driven mixing on deep stratification and water mass transformation. The results also show that the drag and mixing effects are coupled such that they act to weaken one another. The implication is that the future parameterization of lee waves in global ocean and climate models should take both drag and mixing effects into consideration for a more accurate representation of their impact on the ocean circulation.

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Kaylie Cohanim, Ken X. Zhao, and Andrew L. Stewart

Abstract

Interaction between the atmosphere and ocean in sea ice-covered regions is largely concentrated in leads, which are long, narrow openings between sea ice floes. Refreezing and brine rejection in these leads injects salt that plays a key role in maintaining the polar halocline. The injected salt forms dense plumes that subsequently become baroclinically unstable, producing submesoscale eddies that facilitate horizontal spreading of the salt anomalies. However, it remains unclear which properties of the stratification and leads most strongly influence the vertical and horizontal spreading of lead-input salt anomalies. In this study, the spread of lead-injected buoyancy anomalies by mixed layer and eddy processes are investigated using a suite of idealized numerical simulations. The simulations are complemented by dynamical theories that predict the plume convection depth, horizontal eddy transfer coefficient and eddy kinetic energy as functions of the ambient stratification and lead properties. It is shown that vertical penetration of buoyancy anomalies is accurately predicted by a mixed layer temperature and salinity budget until the onset of baroclinic instability (~3 days). Subsequently, these buoyancy anomalies are spread horizontally by eddies. The horizontal eddy diffusivity is accurately predicted by a mixing length scaling, with a velocity scale set by the potential energy released by the sinking salt plume and a length scale set by the deformation radius of the ambient stratification. These findings indicate that the intermittent opening of leads can efficiently populate the polar halocline with submesoscale coherent vortices with diameters of around 10 km, and provide a step toward parameterizing their effect on the horizontal redistribution of salinity anomalies.

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Zhi Li, Matthew H. England, Sjoerd Groeskamp, Ivana Cerovečki, and Yiyong Luo

Abstract

Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) forms in deep mixed layers just north of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in winter, playing a fundamental role in the ocean uptake of heat and carbon. Using a gridded Argo product and the ERA-Interim reanalysis for years 2004-2018, the seasonal evolution of the SAMW volume is analyzed using both a kinematic estimate of the subduction rate and a thermodynamic estimate of the air-sea formation rate. The seasonal SAMW volume changes are separately estimated within the monthly mixed layer and in the interior below it. We find that the variability of SAMW volume is dominated by changes in SAMW volume in the mixed layer. The seasonal variability of SAMW volume in the mixed layer is governed by formation due to air-sea buoyancy fluxes (45%, lasting from July to August), entrainment (35%), and northward Ekman transport across the Subantarctic Front (10%). The interior SAMW formation is entirely controlled by exchanges between the mixed layer and the interior (i.e. instantaneous subduction), which occurs mainly during August-October. The annual mean subduction estimate from a Lagrangian approach shows strong regional variability with hotspots of large SAMW subduction. The SAMW subduction hotspots are consistent with the distribution and export pathways of SAMW over the central and eastern parts of the south Indian and Pacific Oceans. Hotspots in the south Indian Ocean produce strong subduction of 8 and 9 Sv for the light and southeast Indian SAMW, respectively, while SAMW subduction of 6 and 4 Sv occurs for the central and southeast Pacific SAMW, respectively.

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