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B. Praveen Kumar, Eric D’Asaro, N. Sureshkumar, E. Pattabhi Rama Rao, and M. Ravichandran

Abstract

We use profiles from a Lagrangian float in the north Indian Ocean to explore the usefulness of Thorpe analysis methods to measure vertical scales and dissipation rates in the ocean surface boundary layer. An rms Thorpe length scale L T and an energy dissipation rate ε T were computed by resorting the measured density profiles. These are compared to the mixed layer depth (MLD) computed with different density thresholds, the Monin–Obukhov (MO) length L MO computed from the ERA5 reanalysis values of wind stress, and buoyancy flux B 0 and dissipation rates ε from historical microstructure data. The Thorpe length scale L T is found to accurately match MLD for small (<0.005 kg m−3) density thresholds, but not for larger thresholds, because these do not detect the warm diurnal layers. We use ξ = L T/|L MO| to classify the boundary layer turbulence during nighttime convection. In our data, 90% of points from the Bay of Bengal (Arabian Sea) satisfy ξ < 1 (1 < ξ <10), indicating that wind forcing is (both wind forcing and convection are) driving the turbulence. Over the measured range of ξ, ε T decreases with decreasing ξ, i.e., more wind forcing, while ε increases, clearly showing that ε/ε T decreases with increasing ξ. This is explained by a new scaling for ξ ≪ 1, ε T = 1.15B 0 ξ 0.5 compared to the historical scaling ε = 0.64B 0 + 1.76ξ −1. For ξ ≪ 1 we expect ε = ε T. Similar calculations may be possible using routine Argo float and ship data, allowing more detailed global measurements of ε T, thereby providing large-scale tests of turbulence scaling in boundary layers.

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Henry Potter and Johna E. Rudzin

Abstract

Strong winds in tropical cyclones (TCs) mix the ocean, causing cooler water from below the thermocline to be drawn upward, reducing sea surface temperature (SST). This decreases the air–sea temperature difference, limits available heat energy, and impacts TC intensity. Part of TC forecast accuracy therefore depends upon the ability to predict sea surface cooling; however, it is not well understood how underlying ocean conditions contribute to this cooling. Here, ~4400 Argo profiles in the Gulf of Mexico were used in a principal component analysis to identify the modes of variability in upper-ocean temperature, and a 1D mixed layer model was used to determine how the modes respond to surface forcing. It was found that the first two modes explain 75% of the variance in the data, with high mode-1 scores being broadly characterized as having warm SST and deep mixed layer and mode-2 scores being characterized as having high SST and a shallow mixed layer. Both modes have distinct seasonal and spatial variability. When subjected to the same model forcing, mode-1- and mode-2-characteristic waters with equal tropical cyclone heat potential (TCHP) respond very differently. Mode-2 SST cools faster than mode 1, with the difference being most pronounced at lower wind speeds and when comparing early-season storms with late-season storms. The results show that using TCHP as a marker for SST response during TC forcing is insufficient because it does not fully capture subsurface ocean thermal structure. This result underscores the need for continual subsurface monitoring so as to accurately initialize the upper ocean in coupled TC models.

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Qinbiao Ni, Xiaoming Zhai, Xuemin Jiang, and Dake Chen

Abstract

Mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous features of the global ocean circulation and play a key role in transporting ocean properties and modulating air–sea exchanges. Anticyclonic and cyclonic eddies are traditionally thought to be associated with anomalous warm and cold surface waters, respectively. Using satellite altimeter and microwave data, here we show that surface cold-core anticyclonic eddies (CAEs) and warm-core cyclonic eddies (WCEs) are surprisingly abundant in the global ocean—about 20% of the eddies inferred from altimeter data are CAEs and WCEs. Composite analysis using Argo float profiles reveals that the cold cores of CAEs and warm cores of WCEs are generally confined in the upper 50 m. Interestingly, CAEs and WCEs alter air–sea momentum and heat fluxes and modulate mixed layer depth and surface chlorophyll concentration in a way markedly different from the traditional warm-core anticyclonic and cold-core cyclonic eddies. Given their abundance, CAEs and WCEs need to be properly accounted for when assessing and parameterizing the role of ocean eddies in Earth’s climate system.

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Yoeri M. Dijkstra and Henk M. Schuttelaars

Abstract

The classification diagram developed by Hansen and Rattray is one of the classic papers on classification of estuarine salinity dynamics. However, we found several inconsistencies in both their stratification–circulation and estuarine classification diagrams. These findings considerably change the interpretation of their work. Furthermore, while their classification includes salt wedge estuaries, the model used to derive this is only applicable to well-mixed and partially mixed estuaries. Here, we identify and solve these inconsistencies, and we propose new adjusted and extended stratification–circulation and classification diagrams. To this end, we summarize the model of Hansen and Rattray and extend their work to find analytical model solutions and an adjusted stratification–circulation diagram. Using this new diagram, it is shown that Hansen and Rattray incorrectly discussed the behavior of dispersion-dominated estuaries and that several parts of the diagram correspond to physically unrealistic model solutions. This is then used to demonstrate that several estuarine classes identified by Hansen and Rattray correspond to physically unrealistic model solutions and can therefore not be interpreted. A new and extended classification is proposed by using a recently developed model that extends the work of Hansen and Rattray to salt wedge estuaries. This results in an extended estuarine classification including examples of the location of 12 estuaries in this new diagram.

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Zhiling Liao, Shaowu Li, Ye Liu, and Qingping Zou

Abstract

The theoretical model for group-forced infragravity (IG) waves in shallow water is not well established for nonbreaking conditions. In the present study, analytical solutions of the group-forced IG waves at O(β 1) (β 1 = h x/(Δkh), h x = bottom slope, Δk = group wavenumber, h = depth) in intermediate water and at O(β11) in shallow water are derived separately. In case of off-resonance [β 1 μ −1 = O(β 1), where μ=1cg2/(gh) is the resonant departure parameter, c g = group speed] in intermediate water, additional IG waves in quadrature with the wave group forcing (hereinafter, the nonequilibrium response or component) are induced at O(β 1) relative to the equilibrium bound IG wave solution of in phase with the wave group. The present theory indicates that the nonequilibrium response is mainly attributed to the spatial variation of the equilibrium bound IG wave amplitude instead of group-forcing. In case of near-resonance [β 1 μ −1 = O(1)] in shallow water; however, both the equilibrium and nonequilibrium components are ~O(β11) at the leading order. Based on the nearly-resonant solution, the shallow water limit of the local shoaling rate of bound IG waves over a plane sloping beach is derived to be ~h −1 for the first time. The theoretical predictions compare favorably with the laboratory experiment by and the present numerical model results generated using SWASH. Based on the proposed solution, the group-forced IG waves over a symmetric shoal are investigated. In case of off-resonance, the solution predicts a roughly symmetric reversible spatial evolution of the IG wave amplitude, while in cases of near to full resonance the IG wave is significantly amplified over the shoal with asymmetric irreversible spatial evolution.

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P. Vélez-Belchí, V. Caínzos, E. Romero, M. Casanova-Masjoan, C. Arumí-Planas, D. Santana-Toscano, A. González-Santana, M. D. Pérez-Hernández, and A. Hernández-Guerra

Abstract

Poleward undercurrents are well-known features in eastern boundary upwelling systems. In the California Current upwelling system, the California poleward undercurrent has been widely studied, and it has been demonstrated that it transports nutrients from the equatorial waters to the northern limit of the subtropical gyre. However, in the Canary Current upwelling system, the Canary intermediate poleward undercurrent (CiPU) has not been properly characterized, despite recent studies arguing that the dynamics of the eastern Atlantic Ocean play an important role in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, specifically on its seasonal cycle. Here, we use trajectories of Argo floats and model simulations to characterize the CiPU, including its seasonal variability and its driving mechanism. The Argo observations show that the CiPU flows from 26°N, near Cape Bojador, to approximately 45°N, near Cape Finisterre and flows deeper than any poleward undercurrent in other eastern boundaries, with a core at a mean depth of around 1000 dbar. Model simulations manifest that the CiPU is driven by the meridional alongshore pressure gradient due to general ocean circulation and, contrary to what is observed in the other eastern boundaries, is still present at 1000 dbar as a result of the pressure gradient between the Antarctic Intermediate Waters in the south and Mediterranean Outflow waters in the north. The high seasonal variability of the CiPU, with its maximum strength in autumn and minimum in spring, is due to the poleward extension of AAIW, forced by Ekman pumping in the tropics.

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Ewa Jarosz, Hemantha W. Wijesekera, and David W. Wang

Abstract

Velocity, hydrographic, and microstructure observations collected under moderate to high winds, large surface waves, and significant ocean-surface heat losses were utilized to examine coherent velocity structures (CVS) and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget in the mixed layer on the outer shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico in February 2017. The CVS exhibited larger downward velocities in downwelling regions and weaker upward velocities in broader upwelling regions, elevated vertical velocity variance, vertical velocity maxima in the upper part of the mixed layer, and phasing of crosswind velocities relative to vertical velocities near the base of the mixed layer. Temporal scales ranged from 10 to 40 min, and estimated lateral scales ranged from 90 to 430 m, which were 1.5–6 times as large as the mixed layer depth. Nondimensional parameters, Langmuir and Hoenikker numbers, indicated that plausible forcing mechanisms were surface-wave-driven Langmuir vortex and destabilizing surface buoyancy flux. The rate of change of TKE, shear production, Stokes production, buoyancy production, vertical transport of TKE, and dissipation in the TKE budget were evaluated. The shear and Stokes productions, dissipation, and vertical transport of TKE were the dominant terms. The buoyancy production term was important at the sea surface, but it decreased rapidly in the interior. A large imbalance term was found under the unstable, high-wind, and high–sea state conditions. The cause of this imbalance cannot be determined with certainty through analyses of the available observations; however, our speculation is that the pressure transport is significant under these conditions.

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Eric Kunze, John B. Mickett, and James B. Girton

Abstract

Destratification and restratification of a ~50-m-thick surface boundary layer in the North Pacific Subtropical Front are examined during 24–31 March 2017 in the wake of a storm using a ~5-km array of 23 chi-augmented EM-APEX profiling floats (u, υ, T, S, χ T), as well as towyo and ADCP ship surveys, shipboard air-sea surface fluxes, and parameterized shortwave penetrative radiation. During the first four days, nocturnal destabilizing buoyancy fluxes mixed the surface layer over almost its full depth every night followed by restratification to N ~ 2 × 10−3 rad s−1 during daylight. Starting on 28 March, nocturnal destabilizing buoyancy fluxes weakened because weakening winds reduced latent heat flux. Shallow mixing and stratified transition layers formed above ~20-m depth. A remnant layer in the lower part of the surface layer was insulated from destabilizing surface forcing. Penetrative radiation, turbulent buoyancy fluxes, and horizontal buoyancy advection all contribute to its restratification, closing the budget to within measurement uncertainties. Buoyancy advective restratification (slumping) plays a minor role. Before 28 March, measured advective restratification (uzbx+υzby)dt is confined to daytime; is often destratifying; and is much stronger than predictions of geostrophic adjustment, mixed-layer eddy instability, and Ekman buoyancy flux because of storm-forced inertial shear. Starting on 28 March, while small, the subinertial envelope of measured buoyancy advective restratification in the remnant layer proceeds as predicted by mixed-layer eddy parameterizations.

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

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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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, 50, 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- 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 alongshore 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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