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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 (SRT), 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 circulation which transports heat upward. The SRC’s upward heat transport is ~2 times larger in a finer horizontal resolution (0.1°) version of ACCESS, suggesting a differing balance of super-residual and parameterized small-scale processes may emerge as eddies are resolved. Our analysis adds new insight into super-residual processes, as the SRC elucidates the pathways in temperature and depth space along which watermass transformation occurs.

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Michael A. Spall

Abstract

The frequency and latitudinal dependence of the mid-latitude wind-driven meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is studied using theory and linear and nonlinear applications of a quasi-geostrophic numerical model. Wind-forcing is varied by either changing the strength of the wind or by shifting the meridional location of the wind stress curl pattern. At forcing periods less than the first mode baroclinic Rossby wave basin crossing time scale the linear response in the mid-depth and deep ocean is in phase and opposite to the Ekman transport. For forcing periods close to the Rossby wave basin crossing time scale, the upper and deep MOC are enhanced, and the mid-depth MOC becomes phase shifted, relative to the Ekman transport. At longer forcing periods the deep MOC weakens and the mid-depth MOC increases, but eventually for long enough forcing periods (decadal) the entire wind-driven MOC spins down. Nonlinearities and mesoscale eddies are found to be important in two ways. First, baroclinic instability causes the mid-depth MOC to weaken, lose correlation with the Ekman transport, and lose correlation with the MOC in the opposite gyre. Second, eddy thickness fluxes extend the MOC beyond the latitudes of direct wind forcing. These results are consistent with several recent studies describing the four-dimensional structure of the MOC in the North Atlantic.

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Irina I. Rypina, Timothy R. Getscher, Lawrence J. Pratt, and Baptiste Mourre

Abstract

This paper presents analyses of drifters with drogues at different depths – 1, 10, 30, 50 m – that were deployed in the Mediterranean Sea to investigate frontal subduction and upwelling. Drifter trajectories were used to estimate divergence, vorticity, vertical velocity, and finite-size Lyapunov exponents (FTLEs), and to investigate the balance of terms in the vorticity equation. The divergence and vorticity are O(f) and change sign along trajectories. Vertical velocity is O(1 mm/s), increases with depth, indicates predominant upwelling with isolated downwelling events, and sometimes changes sign between 1 and 50 m. Vortex stretching is one of, but not the only, significant term in the vorticity balance. 2D FTLEs are 2 × 10−51/s after 1 day, twice larger than in a 400-m-resolution numerical model. 3D FTLEs are 50% larger than 2D FTLEs and are dominated by the vertical shear of horizontal velocity. Bootstrapping suggests uncertainty levels of ~10% of the time-mean absolute values for divergence and vorticity. Analysis of simulated drifters in a model suggests that drifter-based estimates of divergence and vorticity are close to the Eulerian model estimates, except when drifters get aligned into long filaments. Drifter-based vertical velocity is close to the Eulerian model estimates at 1 m but differs at deeper depths. The errors in the vertical velocity are largely due to the lateral separation between drifters at different depths, and partially due to only measuring at 4 depths. Overall, this paper demonstrates how drifters, heretofore restricted to 2D near-surface observations, can be used to learn about 3D flow properties throughout the upper layer of the water column.

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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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Xiaodong Wu, Falk Feddersen, and Sarah N. Giddings

Abstract

Rip currents are generated by surfzone wave breaking and are ejected offshore inducing inner-shelf flow spatial variability (eddies). However, surfzone effects on the inner-shelf flow spatial variability have not been studied in realistic models that include both shelf and surfzone processes. Here, these effects are diagnosed with two nearly identical twin realistic simulations of the San Diego Bight over summer to fall where one simulation includes surface gravity waves (WW) and the other that does not (NW). The simulations include tides, weak to moderate winds, internal waves, submesoscale processes, and have surfzone width L sz of 96(±41) m (≈ 1 m significant wave height). Flow spatial variability metrics, alongshore root mean square vorticity, divergence, and eddy cross-shore velocity, are analyzed in a L sz normalized cross-shore coordinate. At the surface, the metrics are consistently (> 70%) elevated in the WW run relative to NW out to 5L sz offshore. At 4L sz offshore, WW metrics are enhanced over the entire water column. In a fixed coordinate appropriate for eddy transport, the eddy cross-shore velocity squared correlation betweenWWand NW runs is < 0.5 out to 1.2 km offshore or 12 time-averaged L sz. The results indicate that the eddy tracer (e.g., larvae) transport and dispersion across the inner-shelf will be significantly different in the WW and NW runs. The WW model neglects specific surfzone vorticity generation mechanisms. Thus, these inner-shelf impacts are likely underestimated. In other regions with larger waves, impacts will extend farther offshore.

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Ryuichiro Inoue and Satoshi Osafune

Abstract

A part of near-inertial wind energies dissipates locally below the surface mixed layer. Here, their role in the climate system is studied by adopting near-inertial near-field wind-mixing parameterization to a coarse-forward ocean general circulation model. After confirming a problem of the parameterization in the equatorial region, we investigate effects of near-field wind mixing due to storm track activities in the North Pacific. We found that, in the center of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) around 170°W in the mid latitude, near-field wind mixing transfers the PDO signal into deeper layers. Since the results suggest that near-field wind mixing is important in the climate system, we also compared the parameterization with velocity observations by a float in the North Pacific. The float observed abrupt and local propagation of near-inertial internal waves and shear instabilities in the main thermocline along the Kuroshio Extension for 460 km. Vertical diffusivities inferred from the parameterization do not reproduce the enhanced diffusivities in the deeper layer inferred from the float. Wave-ray tracing indicates that wave trapping near the Kuroshio front is responsible for the elevated diffusivities. Therefore, enhanced mixing due to trapping should be included in the parameterization.

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Ali Tamizi, Jose-Henrique Alves, and Ian R. Young

Abstract

A series of numerical experiments with the WAVEWATCH III spectral wave model are used to investigate the physics of wave evolution in tropical cyclones. Buoy observations show that tropical cyclone wave spectra are directionally skewed with a continuum of energy between locally generated wind-sea and remotely generated waves. These systems are often separated by more than 900. The model spectra are consistent with the observed buoy data and are shown to be governed by nonlinear wave-wave interactions which result in a cascade of energy from the wind-sea to the remotely generated spectral peak. The peak waves act in a “parasitic” manner taking energy from the wind-sea to maintain their growth. The critical role of nonlinear processes explains why one-dimensional tropical cyclone spectra have characteristics very similar to fetch-limited waves, even though the generation system is far more complex. The results also provide strong validation of the critical role nonlinear interactions play in wind-wave evolution.

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Han Wang and Oliver Bühler

Abstract

We present a new method to estimate second-order horizontal velocity structure functions, as well as their Helmholtz decomposition into rotational and divergent components, from sparse data collected along Lagrangian observations. The novelty compared to existing methods is that we allow for anisotropic statistics in the velocity field and also in the collection of the Lagrangian data. Specifically, we assume only stationarity and spatial homogeneity of the data and that the cross covariance between the rotational and divergent flow components is either zero or a function of the separation distance only. No further assumptions are made and the anisotropy of the underlying flow components can be arbitrarily strong. We demonstrate our new method by testing it against synthetic data and applying it to the Lagrangian Submesoscale Experiment (LASER) dataset. We also identify an improved statistical angle-weighting technique that generally increases the accuracy of structure function estimations in the presence of anisotropy.

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Lei Liu, Huijie Xue, and Hideharu Sasaki

Abstract

Using the extended “interior + surface quasigeostrophic” method from the 2019 study by Liu et al. (hereafter L19), subsurface density and horizontal velocities can be reconstructed from sea surface buoyancy and surface height. This study explores the potential of L19 for diagnosing the upper-ocean vertical velocity w field from high-resolution surface information, employing the 1/30° horizontal resolution OFES model output. Specifically, we employ the L19-reconstructed density and horizontal velocity fields in a diabatic version of the omega equation that incorporates a simplified parameterization for turbulent vertical mixing. The w diagnosis is evaluated against OFES output in the Kuroshio Extension region of the North Pacific, and the result indicates that the L19 method constitutes an effective framework. Statistically, the OFES-simulated and L19-diagnosed w fields have a 2-yr-averaged spatial correlation of 0.42–0.51 within the mixed layer and 0.51–0.67 throughout the 1000-m upper ocean below the mixed layer. Including the diabatic turbulent mixing effect has improved the w diagnoses inside the mixed layer, particularly for the cold-season days with the largest correlation improvement reaching 0.31. Our encouraging results suggest that the L19 method can be applied to the high-resolution sea surface height data from the forthcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission for reconstructing 3D hydrodynamic conditions of the upper ocean.

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Zhongya Cai and Jianping Gan

Abstract

We investigated the mean kinetic energy (MKE) and eddy kinetic energy (EKE) in the South China Sea to illustrate the dynamics of the vertically rotating cyclonic–anticyclonic–cyclonic (CAC) circulation in the upper, middle, and deep layers. We found that strong MKE along the basin slope and the associated EKE arising from the vertical shear and stratification of the mean current characterize the circulation. In the upper layer, the external MKE input from the Kuroshio intrusion and wind forcing drive the cyclonic circulation, with the wind forcing providing most of the EKE. External forcing, however, does not directly provide the MKE and EKE of the CAC circulation in the semi-enclosed middle and deep layers, where the internal pressure work near Luzon Strait and the vertical buoyancy flux (VBF) in the southern basin and along the western slope maintain the MKE and EKE. The internal pressure work is formed by ageostrophic motion and pressure gradient field associated with circulation. The VBF is generated by vertical motion induced by the geostrophic cross-isobath transport along the slope where variable density field is maintained by the external flow and the internal mixing. The kinetic energy pathway in the CAC circulation indicates that the external forcing dominates upper-layer circulation and the coupling between internal and external dynamics is crucial for maintaining the circulation in the middle and deep layers. This study provides a new interpretation to the maintenance of CAC circulation from energy prospect.

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