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Yu Zhang, Yu Ping Guan, and Rui Xin Huang

Abstract

Ocean striations are composed of alternating quasi-zonal band-like flows; this kind of organized structure of currents can be found in all the world’s oceans and seas. Previous studies have mainly been focused on the mechanisms of their generation and propagation. This study uses the spatial high-pass filtering to obtain the three-dimensional structure of ocean striations in the North Pacific in both the z coordinate and σ coordinate based on 10-yr averaged Simple Ocean Data Assimilation version 3 (SODA3) data. First, we identify an ideal-fluid potential density domain where the striations are undisturbed by the surface forcing and boundary effects. Second, using the isopycnal layer analysis, we show that on isopycnal surfaces the orientations of striations nearly follow the potential vorticity (PV) contours, while in the meridional–vertical plane the central positions of striations are generally aligned with the latitude of zero gradient of the relative PV. Our analysis provides a simple dynamical interpretation and better understanding for the role of ocean striations.

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Carsten Eden, Dirk Olbers, and Thomas Eriksen

Abstract

A new, energetically, and dynamically consistent closure for the lee wave drag on the large-scale circulation is developed and tested in idealized and realistic ocean model simulations. The closure is based on the radiative transfer equation for internal gravity waves, integrated over wavenumber space, and consists of two lee wave energy compartments for up- and downward propagating waves, which can be cointegrated in an ocean model. Mean parameters for vertical propagation, mean–flow interaction, and the vertical wave momentum flux are calculated assuming that the lee waves stay close to the spectral shape given by linear theory of their generation. Idealized model simulations demonstrate how lee waves are generated and interact with the mean flow and contribute to mixing, and document parameter sensitivities. A realistic eddy-permitting global model at 1/10° resolution coupled to the new closure yields a globally integrated energy flux of 0.27 TW into the lee wave field. The bottom lee wave stress on the mean flow can be locally as large as the surface wind stress and can reach into the surface layer. The interior energy transfers by the stress are directed from the mean flow to the waves, but this often reverses, for example, in the Southern Ocean in case of shear reversal close to the bottom. The global integral of the interior energy transfers from mean flow to waves is 0.14 TW, while 0.04 TW is driving the mean flow, but this share depends on parameter choices for nonlinear effects.

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He Wang, Julie L. McClean, and Lynne D. Talley

Abstract

The Arabian Sea, influenced by the Indian monsoon, has many unique features, including its basin-scale seasonally reversing surface circulation and the Great Whirl, a seasonal anticyclonic system appearing during the southwest monsoon close to the western boundary. To establish a comprehensive dynamical picture of the Arabian Sea, we utilize numerical model output and design a full vorticity budget that includes a fully decomposed nonlinear term. The ocean general circulation model has 0.1° resolution and is mesoscale eddy-resolving in the region. In the western boundary current system, we highlight the role of nonlinear eddies in the life cycle of the Great Whirl. The nonlinear eddy term is of leading-order importance in this feature’s vorticity balance. Specifically, it contributes to the Great Whirl’s persistence in boreal fall after the weakening of the southwesterly winds. In the open ocean, Sverdrup dynamics and annual Rossby waves are found to dominate the vorticity balance; the latter is considered as a key factor in the formation of the Great Whirl and the seasonal reversal of the western boundary current. In addition, we discuss different forms of vertically integrated vorticity equations in the model and argue that the bottom pressure torque term can be interpreted analogously as friction in the western boundary and vortex stretching in the open ocean.

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M. S. Spydell, S. H. Suanda, D. J. Grimes, J. Becherer, J. M. Mcsweeney, C. Chickadel, M. Moulton, J. Thomson, J. Lerczak, J. Barth, J. Macmahan, J. Colosi, R. Romeiser, A. F. Waterhouse, J. Calantoni, and Falk Feddersen

Abstract

Off the central California coast near Pt. Sal, a large-amplitude internal bore was observed for 20 h over 10 km cross shore, or 100–10-m water depth (D), and 30 km along coast by remote sensing, 39 in situ moorings, ship surveys, and drifters. The bore is associated with steep isotherm displacements representing a significant fraction of D. Observations were used to estimate bore arrival time t B, thickness h, and bore and nonbore (ambient) temperature difference ΔT, leading to reduced gravity g′. Bore speeds c, estimated from mapped t B, varied from 0.25 to 0.1 m s−1 from D = 50 to 10 m. The h varied from 5 to 35 m, generally decreased with D, and varied regionally along isobath. The bore ΔT varied from 0.75° to 2.15°C. Bore evolution was interpreted from the perspective of a two-layer gravity current. Gravity current speeds U, estimated from the local bore h and g′, compared well to observed bore speeds throughout its cross-shore propagation. Linear internal wave speeds based on various stratification estimates result in larger errors. On average bore thickness h = D/2, with regional variation, suggesting energy saturation. From 50- to 10-m depths, observed bore speeds compared well to saturated gravity current speeds and energetics that depend only on water depth and shelf-wide mean g′. This suggests that this internal bore is the internal wave analog to a saturated surfzone surface gravity bore. Along-coast variations in prebore stratification explain variations in bore properties. Near Pt. Sal, bore Doppler shifting by barotropic currents is observed.

Open access
Yunchao Yang, Xiaodong Huang, Wei Zhao, Chun Zhou, Siwei Huang, Zhiwei Zhang, and Jiwei Tian

Abstract

The complex behaviors of internal solitary waves (ISWs) in the Andaman Sea were revealed using data collected over a nearly 22-month-long observation period completed by two moorings. Emanating from the submarine ridges northwest of Sumatra Island and south of Car Nicobar, two types of ISWs, referred to as S- and C-ISWs, respectively, were identified in the measurements, and S-ISWs were generally found to be stronger than C-ISWs. The observed S- and C-ISWs frequently appeared as multiwave packets, accounting for 87% and 43% of their observed episodes, respectively. The simultaneous measurements collected by the two moorings featured evident variability along the S-ISW crests, with the average wave amplitude in the northern portion being 36% larger than that in the southern portion. The analyses of the arrival times revealed that the S-ISWs in the northern portion occurred more frequently and arrived more irregularly than those in the southern portion. Moreover, the temporal variability of ISWs drastically differed on monthly and seasonal time scales, characterized by relatively stronger S-ISWs in spring and autumn. Over the interannual time scale, the temporal variations in ISWs were generally subtle. The monthly-to-annual variations of ISWs could be mostly explained by the variability in stratification, which could be modulated by the monsoons, the winds in equatorial Indian Ocean, and the mesoscale eddies in the Andaman Sea. From careful analyses preformed based on the long-term measurements, we argued that the observed ISWs were likely generated via internal tide release mechanism and their generation processes were obviously modulated by background circulations.

Open access
Xiang Li, Dongliang Yuan, Yao Li, Zheng Wang, Jing Wang, Xiaoyue Hu, Ya Yang, Corry Corvianawatie, Dewi Surinati, Asep Sandra Budiman, Ahmad Bayhaqi, Praditya Avianto, Edi Kusmanto, Priyadi Dwi Santoso, Adi Purwandana, Mochamad Furqon Azis Ismail, Dirhamsyah, and Zainal Arifin

Abstract

The currents and water mass properties at the Pacific entrance of the Indonesian seas are studied using measurements of three subsurface moorings deployed between the Talaud and Halmahera Islands. The moored current meter data show northeastward mean currents toward the Pacific Ocean in the upper 400 m during the nearly 2-yr mooring period, with the maximum velocity in the northern part of the channel. The mean transport between 60- and 300-m depths is estimated to be 10.1–13.2 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) during 2016–17, when all three moorings have measurements. The variability of the along-channel velocity is dominated by low-frequency signals (periods > 150 days), with northeastward variations in boreal winter and southwestward variations in summer in the superposition of the annual and semiannual harmonics. The current variations evidence the seasonal movement of the Mindanao Current retroflection, which is supported by satellite sea level and ocean color data, showing a cyclonic intrusion into the northern Maluku Sea in boreal winter whereas a leaping path occurs north of the Talaud Islands in summer. During Apri–July, the moored CTDs near 200 m show southwestward currents carrying the salty South Pacific Tropical Water into the Maluku Sea.

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Bo Qiu and Shuiming Chen

Abstract

A unique characteristic by the Kuroshio off the southern coast of Japan is its bimodal path variations. In contrast to its straight path that follows the coastline, the Kuroshio takes a large meander (LM) path when its axis detours southward by as much as 300 km. Since 1950, eight Kuroshio LM events took place and their occurrences appeared random. By synthesizing available in situ/satellite observations and atmospheric reanalysis product, this study seeks to elucidate processes conducive for the LM occurrence. We find neither changes in the inflow Kuroshio transport from the East China Sea nor in the downstream Kuroshio Extension dynamic state are determinant factors. Instead, intense anticyclonic eddies with transport > 20 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) emanated from the Subtropical Countercurrent (STCC) are found to play critical roles in interacting with Kuroshio path perturbations southeast of Kyushu that generate positive relative vorticities along the coast and lead the nascent path perturbation to form a LM. Occurrence of this intense cyclonic–anticyclonic eddy interaction is favored when surface wind forcing over the STCC is anticyclonic during the positive phasing of Pacific decadal oscillations (PDOs). Such wind forcing strengthens the meridional Ekman flux convergence and enhances eddy generation by the STCC, and seven of the past eight LM events are found to be preceded by 1–2 years by the persistent anticyclonic wind forcings over the STCC. Rather than a fully random phenomenon, we posit that the LM occurrence is regulated by regional wind forcing with a positive PDO imprint.

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Haihong Guo and Michael A. Spall

Abstract

The wind-driven exchange through complex ridges and islands between marginal seas and the open ocean is studied using both numerical and analytical models. The models are forced by a steady, spatially uniform northward wind stress intended to represent the large-scale, low-frequency wind patterns typical of the seasonal monsoons in the western Pacific Ocean. There is an eastward surface Ekman transport out of the marginal sea and westward geostrophic inflows into the marginal sea. The interaction between the Ekman transport and an island chain produces strong baroclinic flows along the island boundaries with a vertical depth that scales with the ratio of the inertial boundary layer thickness to the baroclinic deformation radius. The throughflows in the gaps are characterized by maximum transport in the center gap and decreasing transports toward the southern and northern tips of the island chain. An extended island rule theory demonstrates that throughflows are determined by the collective balance between viscosity on the meridional boundaries and the eastern side boundary of the islands. The outflowing transport is balanced primarily by a shallow current that enters the marginal sea along its equatorward boundary. The islands can block some direct exchange and result in a wind-driven overturning cell within the marginal sea, but this is compensated for by eastward zonal jets around the southern and northern tips of the island chain. Topography in the form of a deep slope, a ridge, or shallow shelves around the islands alters the current pathways but ultimately is unable to limit the total wind-driven exchange between the marginal sea and the open ocean.

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Ratnaksha Lele, Sarah G. Purkey, Jonathan D. Nash, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, Andreas M. Thurnherr, Caitlin B. Whalen, Sabine Mecking, Gunnar Voet, and Lynne D. Talley

Abstract

The abyssal southwest Pacific basin has warmed significantly between 1992 and 2017, consistent with warming along the bottom limb of the meridional overturning circulation seen throughout the global oceans. Here we present a framework for assessing the abyssal heat budget that includes the time-dependent unsteady effects of decadal warming and direct and indirect estimates of diapycnal mixing from microscale temperature measurements and finescale parameterizations. The unsteady terms estimated from the decadal warming rate are shown to be within a factor of 3 of the steady-state terms in the abyssal heat budget for the coldest portion of the water column and therefore cannot be ignored. We show that a reduction in the lateral heat flux for the coldest temperature classes compensated by an increase in warmer waters advected into the basin has important implications for the heat balance and diffusive heat fluxes in the basin. Vertical diffusive heat fluxes are estimated in different ways: using the newly available CTD-mounted microscale temperature measurements, a finescale strain parameterization, and a vertical kinetic energy parameterization from data along the P06 transect along 32.5°S. The unsteady-state abyssal heat budget for the basin shows closure within error estimates, demonstrating that (i) unsteady terms have become consequential for the heat balance in the isotherms closest to the ocean bottom and (ii) direct and indirect estimates from full-depth GO-SHIP hydrographic transects averaged over similarly large spatial and temporal scales can capture the basin-averaged abyssal mixing needed to close the deep overturning circulation.

Open access
Soeren Thomsen, Xavier Capet, and Vincent Echevin

Abstract

Coastal upwelling rates are classically determined by the intensity of the upper-ocean offshore Ekman transport. But (sub)mesoscale turbulence modulates offshore transport, hence the net upwelling rate. Eddy effects generally oppose the Ekman circulation, resulting in so-called “eddy cancellation,” a process well studied in the Southern Ocean. Here we investigate how air–sea heat/buoyancy fluxes modulate eddy cancellation in an idealized upwelling model. We run CROCO simulations with constant winds but varying heat fluxes with and without submesoscale-rich turbulence. Eddy cancellation is consistently evaluated with three different methods that all account for the quasi-isopycnal nature of ocean circulation away from the surface. For zero heat fluxes the release of available potential energy by baroclinic instabilities is strongest and leads, near the coast, to nearly full cancellation of the Ekman cross-shore circulation by eddy effects, i.e., zero net mean upwelling flow. With increasing heat fluxes eddy cancellation is reduced and the transverse flow progressively approaches the classical Ekman circulation. Sensitivity of the eddy circulation to synoptic changes in air–sea heat fluxes is felt down to 125-m depth despite short experiments of tens of days. Mesoscale dynamics dominate the cancellation effect in our simulations which might also hold for the real ocean as the relevant processes act below the surface boundary layer. Although the idealized setting overemphasizes the role of eddies and thus studies with more realistic settings should follow, our findings have important implications for the overall understanding of upwelling system dynamics.

Open access