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A. Köhl, D. Stammer, and B. Cornuelle

Abstract

An estimate of the time-varying global ocean circulation for the period 1992–2002 was obtained by combining most of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) ocean datasets with a general circulation model on a 1° horizontal grid. The estimate exactly satisfies the model equations without artificial sources or sinks of momentum, heat, and freshwater. To bring the model into agreement with observations, its initial temperature and salinity conditions were permitted to change, as were the time-dependent surface fluxes of momentum, heat, and freshwater. The estimation of these “control variables” is largely consistent with accepted uncertainties in the hydrographic climatology and meteorological analyses. The estimated time-mean horizontal transports of volume, heat, and freshwater, which were largely underestimated in the previous 2° optimization performed by Stammer et al., have converged with time-independent estimates from box inversions over most parts of the World Ocean. Trends in the model’s heat content are 7% larger than those reported by Levitus and correspond to a global net heat uptake of about 1.1 W m−2 over the model domain. The associated model trend in sea surface height over the estimation period resembles the observations from Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX)/Poseidon over most of the global ocean. Sea surface height changes in the model are primarily steric but show contributions from mass redistributions from the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean and the Southern Ocean to the subtropical Pacific Ocean gyres. Steric contributions are primarily temperature based but are partly compensated by salt variation. However, the North Atlantic and the Southern Ocean reveal a clear contribution of salt to large-scale sea level variations.

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Lee-Lueng Fu

Abstract

The forcing of the equatorial Indian Ocean by the highly periodic monsoon wind cycle creates many interesting intraseasonal variabilities. The frequency spectrum of the wind stress observations from the European Remote Sensing Satellite scatterometers reveals peaks at the seasonal cycle and its higher harmonics at 180, 120, 90, and 75 days. The observations of sea surface height (SSH) from the Jason and Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX)/Poseidon radar altimeters are analyzed to study the ocean’s response. The focus of the study is on the intraseasonal periods shorter than the annual period. The semiannual SSH variability is characterized by a basin mode involving Rossby waves and Kelvin waves traveling back and forth in the equatorial Indian Ocean between 10°S and 10°N. However, the interference of these waves with each other masks the appearance of individual Kelvin and Rossby waves, leading to a nodal point (amphidrome) of phase propagation on the equator at the center of the basin. The characteristics of the mode correspond to a resonance of the basin according to theoretical models. For the semiannual period and the size of the basin, the resonance involves the second baroclinic vertical mode of the ocean. The theory also calls for similar modes at 90 and 60 days. These modes are found only in the eastern part of the basin, where the wind forcing at these periods is primarily located. The western parts of the theoretical modal patterns are not observed, probably because of the lack of wind forcing. There is also similar SSH variability at 120 and 75 days. The 120-day variability, with spatial patterns resembling the semiannual mode, is close to a resonance involving the first baroclinic vertical mode. The 75-day variability, although not a resonant basin mode in theory, exhibits properties similar to the 60- and 90-day variabilities with energy confined to the eastern basin, where the SSH variability seems in resonance with the local wind forcing. The time it takes an oceanic signal to travel eastward as Kelvin waves from the forcing location along the equator and back as Rossby waves off the equator roughly corresponds to the period of the wind forcing. The SSH variability at 60–90 days is coherent with sea surface temperature (SST) with a near-zero phase difference, showing the effects of the time-varying thermocline depth on SST, which may affect the wind in an ocean–atmosphere coupled process governing the intraseasonal variability.

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D. E. Harrison and Mark Carson

Abstract

Subsurface temperature trends in the better-sampled parts of the World Ocean are reported. Where there are sufficient observations for this analysis, there is large spatial variability of 51-yr trends in the upper ocean, with some regions showing cooling in excess of 3°C, and others warming of similar magnitude. Some 95% of the ocean area analyzed has both cooled and warmed over 20-yr subsets of this period. There is much space and time variability of 20-yr running trend estimates, indicating that trends over a decade or two may not be representative of longer-term trends. Results are based on sorting individual observations in World Ocean Database 2001 into 1° × 1° and 2° × 2° bins. Only bins with at least five observations per decade for four of the five decades since 1950 are used. Much of the World Ocean cannot be examined from this perspective. The 51-yr trends significant at the 90% level are given particular attention. Results are presented for depths of 100, 300, and 500 m. The patterns of the 90% significant trends are spatially coherent on scales resolved by the bin size. The vertical structure of the trends is coherent in some regions, but changes sign between the analysis depths in a number of others. It is suggested that additional attention should be given to uncertainty estimates for basin average and World Ocean average thermal trends.

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Ichiro Fukumori, Dimitris Menemenlis, and Tong Lee

Abstract

A new basin-wide oscillation of the Mediterranean Sea is identified and analyzed using sea level observations from the Ocean Topography Experiment (TOPEX)/Poseidon satellite altimeter and a numerical ocean circulation model. More than 50% of the large-scale, nontidal, and non-pressure-driven variance of sea level can be attributed to this oscillation, which is nearly uniform in phase and amplitude across the entire basin. The oscillation has periods ranging from 10 days to several years and has a magnitude as large as 10 cm. The model suggests that the fluctuations are driven by winds at the Strait of Gibraltar and its neighboring region, including the Alboran Sea and a part of the Atlantic Ocean immediately to the west of the strait. Winds in this region force a net mass flux through the Strait of Gibraltar to which the Mediterranean Sea adjusts almost uniformly across its entire basin with depth-independent pressure perturbations. The wind-driven response can be explained in part by wind setup; a near-stationary balance is established between the along-strait wind in this forcing region and the sea level difference between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The amplitude of this basin-wide wind-driven sea level fluctuation is inversely proportional to the setup region’s depth but is insensitive to its width including that of Gibraltar Strait. The wind-driven fluctuation is coherent with atmospheric pressure over the basin and contributes to the apparent deviation of the Mediterranean Sea from an inverse barometer response.

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A. J. Meijers, N. L. Bindoff, and J. L. Roberts

Abstract

The large-scale volume, heat, and freshwater ocean transports in the Southern Hemisphere are investigated using time-averaged output from a seasonless, high-resolution general circulation model. The ocean circulation is realistic, and property transports are comparable to observations. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) carries 144 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of water eastward across Drake Passage, increasing to 155 Sv south of Australia because of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF). There is a clear Indo-Pacific gyre around Australia exchanging −10 Sv, 0.9 PW of heat, and 0.2 Sv of freshwater through the ITF, and there is a 9-Sv leakage from the Tasman Sea to the Indian Ocean. The transport of heat and freshwater by eddies is localized to the upper 1000 m of the water column and specific regions, such as western boundary currents, confluences, and the subantarctic front (SAF). Eddy transport of heat and freshwater is negligible in gyre interiors and south of the SAF but is vital across the northern edge of the ACC, in particular at the Agulhas Retroflection where eddies accomplish almost 100% of the net ocean heat and 60% of the southward freshwater transport. The eddy transport is almost zero across the latitude of Drake Passage while in a quasi-Lagrangian frame eddy transports are significant across the ACC but surprisingly are still smaller than the mean transport of heat. Mean and eddy property transport divergences are found to be strongly compensating in areas of high eddy activity. This is caused by increased baroclinic instability in strong mean flows, which induces an opposing eddy transport. This relationship is observed to be stronger in the case of horizontal heat transport than in corresponding horizontal freshwater transports.

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Nelson G. Hogg and Daniel E. Frye

Abstract

As part of a program aimed at developing a long-duration, subsurface mooring, known as Ultramoor, several modern acoustic current meters were tested. The instruments with which the authors have the most experience are the Aanderaa RCM11 and the Nortek Aquadopp, which measure currents using the Doppler shift of backscattered acoustic signals, and the Falmouth Scientific ACM, which measures changes in travel time of acoustic signals between pairs of transducers. Some results from the Doppler-based Sontek Argonaut and the travel-time-based Nobska MAVS are also reported. This paper concentrates on the fidelity of the speed measurement but also presents some results related to the accuracy of the direction measurement. Two procedures were used to compare the instruments. In one, different instruments were placed close to one another on three different deep-ocean moorings. These tests showed that the RCM11 measures consistently lower speeds than either a vector averaging current meter or a vector measuring current meter, both more traditional instruments with mechanical velocity sensors. The Aquadopp in use at the time, but since updated to address accuracy problems in low scattering environments, was biased high. A second means of testing involved comparing the appropriate velocity component of each instrument with the rate of change of pressure when they were lowered from a ship. Results from this procedure revealed no depth dependence or measurable bias in the RCM11 data, but did show biases in both the Aquadopp and Argonaut Doppler-based instruments that resulted from low signal-to-noise ratios in the clear, low scattering conditions beneath the thermocline. Improvements in the design of the latest Aquadopp have reduced this bias to a level that is not significant.

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Felix W. Landerer, Johann H. Jungclaus, and Jochem Marotzke

Abstract

This paper analyzes regional sea level changes in a climate change simulation using the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI) coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation model ECHAM5/MPI-OM. The climate change scenario builds on observed atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations from 1860 to 2000, followed by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A1B climate change scenario until 2100; from 2100 to 2199, GHG concentrations are fixed at the 2100 level. As compared with the unperturbed control climate, global sea level rises 0.26 m by 2100, and 0.56 m by 2199 through steric expansion; eustatic changes are not included in this simulation. The model’s sea level evolves substantially differently among ocean basins. Sea level rise is strongest in the Arctic Ocean, from enhanced freshwater input from precipitation and continental runoff, and weakest in the Southern Ocean, because of compensation of steric changes through dynamic sea surface height (SSH) adjustments. In the North Atlantic Ocean (NA), a complex tripole SSH pattern across the subtropical to subpolar gyre front evolves, which is consistent with a northward shift of the NA current. On interannual to decadal time scales, the SSH difference between Bermuda and the Labrador Sea correlates highly with the combined baroclinic gyre transport in the NA but only weakly with the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) and, thus, does not allow for estimates of the MOC on these time scales. Bottom pressure increases over shelf areas by up to 0.45 m (water column equivalent) and decreases over the Atlantic section in the Southern Ocean by up to 0.20 m. The separate evaluation of thermosteric and halosteric sea level changes shows that thermosteric anomalies are positive over most of the World Ocean. Because of increased atmospheric moisture transport from low to high latitudes, halosteric anomalies are negative in the subtropical NA and partly compensate thermosteric anomalies, but are positive in the Arctic Ocean and add to thermosteric anomalies. The vertical distribution of thermosteric and halosteric anomalies is highly nonuniform among ocean basins, reaching deeper than 3000 m in the Southern Ocean, down to 2200 m in the North Atlantic, and only to depths of 500 m in the Pacific Ocean by the end of the twenty-first century.

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Claudia Pasquero and Eli Tziperman

Abstract

A statistical convective adjustment scheme is proposed that attempts to account for the effects of mesoscale and submesoscale variability of temperature and salinity typically observed in the oceanic convective regions. Temperature and salinity in each model grid box are defined in terms of their mean, variance, and mutual correlations. Subgrid-scale instabilities lead to partial mixing between different layers in the water column. This allows for a smooth transition between the only two states (convection on and convection off) allowed in standard convective adjustment schemes. The advantage of the statistical parameterization is that possible instabilities associated with the sharp transition between the two states, which are known to occasionally affect the large-scale model solution, are eliminated. The procedure also predicts the generation of correlations between temperature and salinity and the presence of convectively induced upgradient fluxes that have been obtained in numerical simulations of heterogeneous convection and that cannot be represented by standard convective adjustment schemes.

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Walter Munk and Bruce Bills

Abstract

The important role of tides in the mixing of the pelagic oceans has been established by recent experiments and analyses. The tide potential is modulated by long-period orbital modulations. Previously, Loder and Garrett found evidence for the 18.6-yr lunar nodal cycle in the sea surface temperatures of shallow seas. In this paper, the possible role of the 41 000-yr variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic is considered. The obliquity modulation of tidal mixing by a few percent and the associated modulation in the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) may play a role comparable to the obliquity modulation of the incoming solar radiation (insolation), a cornerstone of the Milanković theory of ice ages. This speculation involves even more than the usual number of uncertainties found in climate speculations.

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