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Xiaolin Bai, Kevin G. Lamb, Jianyu Hu, and Zhiyu Liu

Abstract

Internal solitary-like waves (ISWs) evolve considerably when passing through a critical point separating the deep water where ISWs are waves of depression and shallower water where they are waves of elevation. The location of the critical point is determined by the background current and stratification. In this study, we investigate the influence of tidal currents on the cross-shelf movement of the critical point and elucidate the underlying processes via fully nonlinear numerical simulations. Our simulations reveal phase-locked tidal variations of the critical point, which are mainly attributed to stratification fluctuations that are modulated by the combined effects of cross-shelf barotropic tidal currents and locally generated baroclinic tides. The barotropic tidal currents drive isopycnal displacements as they flow over the slope, and as this occurs baroclinic tides are generated, modulating the stratification and inducing sheared currents. This results in a cross-shelf movement of the critical point, which moves onshore (offshore) when the pycnocline is elevated (depressed) by the flood (ebb) tide. Our idealized numerical simulations for the study region in the South China Sea suggest that the cross-shelf movement of the critical point reaches to O(10) km within a tidal cycle. This distance depends on the strength of tidal currents, stratification, and bathymetry. Because of tidal currents, ISWs of depression may undergo a complex evolution even in a stratification with a shallow pycnocline. For the stratification with a deep pycnocline, the critical point may be at a location deep enough so that its tidal movement becomes insignificant.

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Johannes Becherer, James N. Moum, Joseph Calantoni, John A. Colosi, John A. Barth, James A. Lerczak, Jacqueline M. McSweeney, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, and Amy F. Waterhouse

Abstract

Broadly distributed measurements of velocity, density, and turbulence spanning the inner shelf off central California indicate that (i) the average shoreward-directed internal tide energy flux FE decreases to near 0 at the 25-m isobath; (ii) the vertically integrated turbulence dissipation rate D is approximately equal to the flux divergence of internal tide energy xFE; (iii) the ratio of turbulence energy dissipation in the interior relative to the bottom boundary layer (BBL) decreases toward shallow waters; (iv) going inshore, FE becomes decorrelated with the incoming internal wave energy flux; and (v) FE becomes increasingly correlated with stratification toward shallower water.

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Johannes Becherer, James N. Moum, Joseph Calantoni, John A. Colosi, John A. Barth, James A. Lerczak, Jacqueline M. McSweeney, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, and Amy F. Waterhouse

Abstract

Here, we develop a framework for understanding the observations presented in Part I. In this framework, the internal tide saturates as it shoals as a result of amplitude limitation with decreasing water depth H. From this framework evolves estimates of averaged energetics of the internal tide; specifically, energy ⟨APE⟩, energy flux ⟨F E⟩, and energy flux divergence ∂xF E⟩. Since we observe that dissipation ⟨D⟩ ≈ ∂xF E⟩, we also interpret our estimate of ∂xF E⟩ as ⟨D⟩. These estimates represent a parameterization of the energy in the internal tide as it saturates over the inner continental shelf. The parameterization depends solely on depth-mean stratification and bathymetry. A summary result is that the cross-shelf depth dependencies of ⟨APE⟩, ⟨F E⟩, and ∂xF E⟩ are analogous to those for shoaling surface gravity waves in the surf zone, suggesting that the inner shelf is the surf zone for the internal tide. A test of our simple parameterization against a range of datasets suggests that it is broadly applicable.

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Yisen Zhong, Meng Zhou, Joanna J. Waniek, Lei Zhou, and Zhaoru Zhang

Abstract

The long-term satellite altimeter and reanalysis data show that large seasonal variations of the Kuroshio intrusion into the South China Sea are associated with geostrophic transport through the Luzon Strait, but not with the current intensity, width, and axis position east of Luzon island. To address this issue, we examine the seasonal variability of surface intrusion patterns by a new streamline-based method. The along-streamline analysis reveals that the seasonality of geostrophic intrusion is only attributed to the cyclonic shear part of the flow, while the anticyclonic shear part always leaps across the Luzon Strait. A possible physical mechanism is proposed to accommodate these seasonal characteristics based globally on the vorticity (torque work) balance between the basinwide negative wind stress curl and the positive vorticity fluxes induced by the lateral wall, as well as locally on loss of balance between the torques of frictional stresses and normal stresses owing to the boundary gap. Through modifying the nearshore sea surface level, the northeasterly (southeasterly) monsoon increases (decreases) the positive vorticity fluxes in response to global vorticity balance, and simultaneously amplifies (alleviates) the local imbalance by enhancing (reducing) the positive frictional stress torque within the cyclonic shear layer. Therefore, in winter when the positive torque is large enough, the Kuroshio splits and the intrusion occurs, while in summer the stress torque is so weak that the entire current keeps flowing north.

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Kenneth G. Hughes, James N. Moum, Emily L. Shroyer, and William D. Smyth

Abstract

In low winds (2 m s−1), diurnal warm layers form, but shear in the near-surface jet is too weak to generate shear instability and mixing. In high winds (8 m s−1), surface heat is rapidly mixed downward and diurnal warm layers do not form. Under moderate winds of 3–5 m s−1, the jet persists for several hours in a state that is susceptible to shear instability. We observe low Richardson numbers of Ri ≈ 0.1 in the top 2 m between 1000 and 1600 local time (LT) (from 4 h after sunrise to 2 h before sunset). Despite Ri being well below the Ri = ¼ threshold, instabilities do not grow quickly, nor do they overturn. The stabilizing influence of the sea surface limits growth, a result demonstrated by both linear stability analysis and two-dimensional simulations initialized from observed profiles. In some cases, growth rates are sufficiently small (≪1 h−1) that mixing is not expected even though Ri < ¼. This changes around 1600–1700 LT. Thereafter, convective cooling causes the region of unstable flow to move downward, away from the surface. This allows shear instabilities to grow an order-of-magnitude faster and mix effectively. We corroborate the overall observed diurnal cycle of instability with a freely evolving, two-dimensional simulation that is initialized from rest before sunrise.

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Laurent M. Chérubin, Nicolas Le Paih, and Xavier Carton

Abstract

The Florida Current (FC) flows in the Straits of Florida (SoF) and connects the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf Stream (GS) in the western Atlantic Ocean. Its journey through the SoF is at time characterized by the formation and presence of mesoscale but mostly submesoscale frontal eddies on the cyclonic side of the current. The formation of those frontal eddies was investigated in a very high-resolution two-way nested simulation using the Regional Oceanic Modeling System (ROMS). Frontal eddies were either locally formed or originated from outside the SoF. The northern front of the incoming eddies was susceptible to superinertial shear instability over the shelf slope when the eddies were pushed up against the slope by the FC. Otherwise, incoming eddies could be advected, relatively unaffected by the current, when in the southern part of the straits. In the absence of incoming eddies, submesoscale eddies were locally formed by the roll-up of superinertial barotropically unstable vorticity filaments when the FC was pushed up against the shelf slope. The vorticity filaments were intensified by the friction-induced bottom-layer vorticity flux as previously demonstrated by Gula et al. in the GS. When the FC retreated farther south, negative-vorticity west Florida shelf waters overflowed into the SOF and led to the formation of submesoscale eddies by baroclinic instability. The instability regimes, that is, the submesoscale frontal eddies formation, appear to be controlled by the lateral “sloshing” of the FC in the SoF.

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Abhishek Savita, Jan D. Zika, Catia M. Domingues, Simon J. Marsland, Gwyn Dafydd Evans, Fabio Boeira Dias, Ryan M. Holmes, and Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

Ocean circulation and mixing regulate Earth’s climate by moving heat vertically within the ocean. We present a new formalism to diagnose the role of ocean circulation and diabatic processes in setting vertical heat transport in ocean models. In this formalism we use temperature tendencies, rather than explicit vertical velocities, to diagnose circulation. Using quasi-steady-state simulations from the Australian Community Climate and Earth-System Simulator Ocean Model (ACCESS-OM2), we diagnose a diathermal overturning circulation in temperature–depth space. Furthermore, projection of tendencies due to diabatic processes onto this coordinate permits us to represent these as apparent overturning circulations. Our framework permits us to extend the concept of “Super Residual Transport,” which combines mean and eddy advection terms with subgridscale isopycnal mixing due to mesoscale eddies but excludes small-scale three-dimensional turbulent mixing effect, to construct a new overturning circulation—the “Super Residual Circulation” (SRC). We find that in the coarse-resolution version of ACCESS-OM2 (nominally 1° horizontal resolution) the SRC is dominated by an ~11-Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) circulation that transports heat upward. The SRC’s upward heat transport is ~2 times as large in a finer-horizontal-resolution (0.1°) version of ACCESS, suggesting that a differing balance of super-residual and parameterized small-scale processes may emerge as eddies are resolved. Our analysis adds new insight into superresidual processes, because the SRC elucidates the pathways in temperature and depth space along which water mass transformation occurs.

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Jianguo Yuan and Jun-Hong Liang

Abstract

Large-eddy simulations are used to investigate the influence of a horizontal frontal zone, represented by a stationary uniform background horizontal temperature gradient, on the wind- and wave-driven ocean surface boundary layers. In a frontal zone, the temperature structure, the ageostrophic mean horizontal current, and the turbulence in the ocean surface boundary layer all change with the relative angle among the wind and the front. The net heating and cooling of the boundary layer could be explained by the depth-integrated horizontal advective buoyancy flux, called the Ekman buoyancy flux (or the Ekman–Stokes buoyancy flux if wave effects are included). However, the detailed temperature profiles are also modulated by the depth-dependent advective buoyancy flux and submesoscale eddies. The surface current is deflected less (more) to the right of the wind and wave when the depth-integrated advective buoyancy flux cools (warms) the ocean surface boundary layer. Horizontal mixing is greatly enhanced by submesoscale eddies. The eddy-induced horizontal mixing is anisotropic and is stronger to the right of the wind direction. Vertical turbulent mixing depends on the superposition of the geostrophic and ageostrophic current, the depth-dependent advective buoyancy flux, and submesoscale eddies.

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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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