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Yueyang Lu
,
Igor Kamenkovich
, and
Pavel Berloff

Abstract

Lateral mesoscale eddy-induced tracer transport is traditionally represented in coarse-resolution models by the flux–gradient relation. In its most complete form, the relation assumes the eddy tracer flux as a product of the large-scale tracer concentration gradient and an eddy transport coefficient tensor. However, several recent studies reported that the tensor has significant spatiotemporal complexity and is not uniquely defined, that is, it is sensitive to the tracer distributions and to the presence of nondivergent (“rotational”) components of the eddy flux. These issues could lead to significant biases in the representation of the eddy-induced transport. Using a high-resolution tracer model of the Gulf Stream region, we examine the diffusive and advective properties of lateral eddy-induced transport of dynamically passive tracers, reevaluate the utility of the flux–gradient relation, and propose an alternative approach based on modeling the local eddy forcing by a combination of diffusion and generalized eddy-induced advection. Mesoscale eddies are defined by a scale-based spatial filtering, which leads to the importance of new eddy-induced terms, including eddy-mean covariances in the eddy fluxes. The results show that the biases in representing these terms are noticeably reduced by the new approach. A series of targeted simulations in the high-resolution model further demonstrates that the approach outperforms the flux–gradient model in reproducing the stirring and dispersing effect of eddies. Our study indicates potential to upgrade the traditional flux–gradient relation for representing the eddy-induced tracer transport.

Restricted access
L. Mahrt
,
Erik Nilsson
, and
Anna Rutgersson

Abstract

We analyze approximately four years of heat-flux measurements at two levels, profiles of air temperature, and multiple measurements of the water temperature collected at a coastal zone site. Our analysis considers underestimation of the sea surface flux resulting from vertical divergence of the heat flux between the surface and the lowest flux level. We examine simple relationships of the heat flux to the wind speed and stratification and the potential influence of fetch and temperature advection. The fetch ranges from about 4 to near 400 km. For a given wind-direction sector, the transfer coefficient varies only slowly with increasing instability but decreases significantly with increasing stability. The intention here is not to recommend a new parameterization but rather to establish relationships that underlie the bulk formula that could lead to assessments of uncertainty and improvement of the bulk formula.

Significance Statement

The behavior of surface heat fluxes in the coastal zone is normally more complex than over the open ocean but has a large impact on human activity. Our study examines extensive flux measurements on a tower in the Baltic Sea that allows partitioning of the fluxes according to wind direction without seriously depleting the data for a given wind-direction sector. Because some of the normal assumptions for the usual parameterization are not met, our study examines relationships behind the parameterization of the surface fluxes.

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Amy F. Waterhouse
,
Tyler Hennon
,
Eric Kunze
,
Jennifer A. MacKinnon
,
Matthew H. Alford
,
Robert Pinkel
,
Harper Simmons
,
Caitlin B. Whalen
,
Elizabeth C. Fine
,
Jody Klymak
, and
Julia M. Hummon

Abstract

Internal waves are predominantly generated by winds, tide–topography interactions, and balanced flow–topography interactions. Observations of vertical shear of horizontal velocity (uz , υz ) from lowered acoustic Doppler current profilers (LADCP) profiles conducted during GO-SHIP hydrographic surveys, as well as vessel-mounted sonars, are used to interpret these signals. Vertical directionality of intermediate-wavenumber [ λ z O ( 100 )  m ] internal waves is inferred in this study from rotary-with-depth shears. Total shear variance and vertical asymmetry ratio (Ω), i.e., the normalized difference between downward- and upward-propagating intermediate wavenumber shear variance, where Ω > 0 (<0) indicates excess downgoing (upgoing) shear variance, are calculated for three depth ranges: 200–600 m, 600 m–1000 mab (meters above bottom), and below 1000 mab. Globally, downgoing (clockwise-with-depth in the Northern Hemisphere) exceeds upgoing (counterclockwise-with-depth in the Northern Hemisphere) shear variance by 30% in the upper 600 m of the water column (corresponding to the globally averaged asymmetry ratio of Ω ¯ = 0.13 ), with a near-equal distribution below 600-m depth ( Ω ¯ 0 ). Downgoing shear variance in the upper water column dominates at all latitudes. There is no statistically significant correlation between the global distribution of Ω and internal wave generation, pointing to an important role for processes that redistribute energy within the internal wave continuum on wavelengths of O ( 100 )  m .

Open access
Zhiwu Chen
,
Gengbin Liu
,
Zhiyu Liu
,
Shaomin Chen
,
Huaihao Lu
,
Jiexin Xu
,
Yankun Gong
,
Jieshuo Xie
,
Yinghui He
,
Ju Chen
,
Yunkai He
, and
Shuqun Cai

Abstract

Tide-induced near-inertial internal waves (NIWs) are generated by tide–topography interaction and are energized by internal tides through triadic resonant interaction of internal waves. They are located above topography and could be in close contact with wind-induced NIWs when the topography is a tall ridge, like in the Luzon Strait of the northern South China Sea (SCS). A natural question arises as to whether there is significant interaction between wind- and tide-induced NIWs. By using moored velocity observations, a satellite-tracked surface drifter dataset, and idealized numerical simulations, we find that in the presence of tide-induced NIWs, the wind can inject slightly more near-inertial energy (NIE), while in the presence of wind-induced NIWs, significantly more tidal energy is transferred to NIWs. Thus, wind- and tide-induced NIWs can mutually enhance each other, producing more NIE than a linear superposition of that generated by wind and tide forcing alone. Increasing wind intensity and tidal excursion lead to saturation of NIE enhancement, while a taller ridge leads to stronger enhancement. The high mixed layer NIE near Luzon Strait is mostly generated by the wind, while the mutual enhancement between wind- and tide-induced NIWs can further enhance this pattern. The interaction between wind- and tide-induced NIWs leads to an enhancement of 25% more NIE. If tide-induced NIWs are neglected, as is usually the case in the estimation of NIE, the total NIE will be underestimated by almost 50%. This might imply that tide-induced NIWs are important for the energetics of NIWs in Luzon Strait.

Significance Statement

Near-inertial internal waves (NIWs) usually occupy the most kinetic energy of internal waves and contribute significantly to ocean mixing. Near the surface they are usually generated by wind forcing, but near the bottom they can be generated by geostrophic or tidal flow interacting with topography. Above the tall ridge in Luzon Strait, wind- and tide-induced NIWs are in close contact, leading to potential interactions. It is found that these NIWs can mutually enhance each other, with most of the additional near-inertial energy (NIE) coming from the tides. If tide-induced NIWs are neglected, the total NIE will be underestimated by almost 50%. This suggests that tide-induced NIWs are important for the energetics of NIWs in Luzon Strait.

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Bertrand L. Delorme
and
Leif N. Thomas

Abstract

Recent work has shown that, when non-traditional (NT) effects associated with the horizontal component of the Coriolis parameter are taken into account, Equatorial Waves (EWs) experience critical reflection when they reflect off the seafloor at the latitude where their frequency is equal to the inertial frequency. As a result, the vertical shear associated with the wave is strongly enhanced locally and results in bottom-intensified mixing. Using an off-the-shelf parameterization for mixing, these studies have shown that this process could play an important role in driving diapycnal upwelling in the abyssal ocean, but the specific mechanisms generating the mixing have not been studied yet. In this work, we address this limitation by running two-dimensional, high-resolution, non-hydrostatic simulations of the critical reflection of internal waves modified by NT effects. These simulations can resolve the instabilities triggered when the wave reflects off the bottom, allowing us to characterize the energy cascade to smaller scales and to estimate the mixing it generates. We find that shear instabilities drive elevated turbulent diffusivities between 10−1–10−3 m2/s over a critical layer of 100-300 m thick. The shear instabilities result directly from the enhancement of kinetic energy in the reflected wave that is confined against the seafloor during the critical reflection process. Simultaneously, higher harmonics are generated and flux energy upwards in the water column. These higher harmonics are unstable to parametric subharmonic instability, which absorbs their energy and drive enhanced dissipation above the critical layer, to a height of O(1000 m) off the bottom. We show how these results depend on key elements of the EWs and of the medium, and discuss the implementation of a parameterization of these effects in global ocean models.

Restricted access
Henri F. Drake
,
Xiaozhou Ruan
, and
Raffaele Ferrari

Abstract

Small-scale mixing drives the diabatic upwelling that closes the abyssal ocean overturning circulation. Indirect microstructure measurements of in situ turbulence suggest that mixing is bottom enhanced over rough topography, implying downwelling in the interior and stronger upwelling in a sloping bottom boundary layer. Tracer release experiments (TREs), in which inert tracers are purposefully released and their dispersion is surveyed over time, have been used to independently infer turbulent diffusivities—but typically provide estimates in excess of microstructure ones. In an attempt to reconcile these differences, Ruan and Ferrari derived exact tracer-weighted buoyancy moment diagnostics, which we here apply to quasi-realistic simulations. A tracer’s diapycnal displacement rate is exactly twice the tracer-averaged buoyancy velocity, itself a convolution of an asymmetric upwelling/downwelling dipole. The tracer’s diapycnal spreading rate, however, involves both the expected positive contribution from the tracer-averaged in situ diffusion as well as an additional nonlinear diapycnal distortion term, which is caused by correlations between buoyancy and the buoyancy velocity, and can be of either sign. Distortion is generally positive (stretching) due to bottom-enhanced mixing in the stratified interior but negative (contraction) near the bottom. Our simulations suggest that these two effects coincidentally cancel for the Brazil Basin Tracer Release Experiment, resulting in negligible net distortion. By contrast, near-bottom tracers experience leading-order distortion that varies in time. Errors in tracer moments due to realistically sparse sampling are generally small (<20%), especially compared to the O ( 1 ) structural errors due to the omission of distortion effects in inverse models. These results suggest that TREs, although indispensable, should not be treated as “unambiguous” constraints on diapycnal mixing.

Restricted access
Henri F. Drake
,
Xiaozhou Ruan
,
Jörn Callies
,
Kelly Ogden
,
Andreas M. Thurnherr
, and
Raffaele Ferrari

Abstract

The abyssal overturning circulation is thought to be primarily driven by small-scale turbulent mixing. Diagnosed water-mass transformations are dominated by rough topography “hotspots,” where the bottom enhancement of mixing causes the diffusive buoyancy flux to diverge, driving widespread downwelling in the interior—only to be overwhelmed by an even stronger upwelling in a thin bottom boundary layer (BBL). These water-mass transformations are significantly underestimated by one-dimensional (1D) sloping boundary layer solutions, suggesting the importance of three-dimensional physics. Here, we use a hierarchy of models to generalize this 1D boundary layer approach to three-dimensional eddying flows over realistically rough topography. When applied to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the Brazil Basin, the idealized simulation results are roughly consistent with available observations. Integral buoyancy budgets isolate the physical processes that contribute to realistically strong BBL upwelling. The downward diffusion of buoyancy is primarily balanced by upwelling along the sloping canyon sidewalls and the surrounding abyssal hills. These flows are strengthened by the restratifying effects of submesoscale baroclinic eddies and by the blocking of along-ridge thermal wind within the canyon. Major topographic sills block along-thalweg flows from restratifying the canyon trough, resulting in the continual erosion of the trough’s stratification. We propose simple modifications to the 1D boundary layer model that approximate each of these three-dimensional effects. These results provide local dynamical insights into mixing-driven abyssal overturning, but a complete theory will also require the nonlocal coupling to the basin-scale circulation.

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Louise Rousselet
and
Paola Cessi

Abstract

The diabatic transformations of the middepth meridional overturning circulation (MOC) as it exits and reenters the South Atlantic to close the AMOC are studied using a state estimate assimilating data into a dynamically consistent ocean model. Virtual Lagrangian parcels in the lower branch of the MOC are followed in their global tour as they return to the upper branch of the MOC. Three return pathways are identified. The first pathway enters the abyssal Indo-Pacific as Circumpolar Deep Water, directly from the northern Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), and before sampling the Antarctic margin. The second pathway sinks to abyssal densities exclusively in the Southern Ocean, then upwells while circulating within the ACC and eventually enters the Indo-Pacific or Atlantic at mid- to upper depths. The third pathway never reaches densities in the abyssal range. Parcels sinking in the Antarctic Bottom Water range upwell to mid- to upper depths south of 55°S. Parcels in all three pathways experience additional diabatic transformations after upwelling in the Southern Ocean, with more diabatic changes north of about 30°S than elsewhere. Diabatic changes are predominantly in the mixed layer of the tropical and subpolar gyres, enabled by Ekman suction. A simple model of the wind-driven flow illustrates that parcels always reach the surface in the tropical and subpolar gyres, regardless of their initial condition, because of coupling among gyres, the Ekman transport, and its return.

Open access
Hendrik Jongbloed
,
Henk M. Schuttelaars
,
Yoeri M. Dijkstra
,
Paul B. Donkers
, and
Antonius J. F. Hoitink

Abstract

An idealized width-averaged model is employed to study the influence of wind stress on subtidal salt intrusion and stratification in well-mixed and partially stratified estuaries. We show that even in mild conditions, wind forcing can influence the estuarine salinity structure in a substantial way. By studying the role of wind forcing on dominant salt transport balances and associated salt transport regimes, we unify and clarify ambiguous observations from previous authors regarding the influence of wind stress: the response of the estuarine salinity structure to wind forcing is different depending on the underlying dominant salt transport balance, which in turn was found to determine whether wind-induced salinity shear, wind-induced modulation of the longitudinal salt distribution, or wind-induced mixing dominates.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this idealized study is to better understand how wind influences the salinity distribution in estuaries on large time scales. This is important because a change in winds can move saline water further inland, threatening freshwater availability and the natural balance of delicate ecosystems. We clarify the sometimes ambiguous observations regarding the influence of wind on the salt distribution and highlight the importance of including average wind forcing in analyses of estuarine dynamics on large time scales.

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Ming-Huei Chang
,
Yu-Hsin Cheng
,
Yu-Yu Yeh
,
Yiing Jang Yang
,
Sen Jan
,
Chih-Lun Liu
,
Takeshi Matsuno
,
Takahiro Endoh
,
Eisuke Tsutsumi
,
Jia-Lin Chen
, and
Xinyu Guo

Abstract

Complex small-scale processes and energetic turbulence are observed at a sill located on the I-Lan Ridge that spans across the strong Kuroshio off Taiwan. The current speed above the sill is strong (1.5 m s−1) and unsteady (±0.5 m s−1) due to the Kuroshio being modulated by the semidiurnal tide. Above the sill crest, isothermal domes, with vertical scales of ∼20 and ∼50 m during the low and high tides, respectively, are generated by turbulent mixing as a result of shear instability in the bottom boundary layer. Tidally modulated hydraulic character modifies the small-scale processes occurring on the leeward side of the sill. Criticality analysis, performed by solving the Taylor–Goldstein equation, suggests that the observed lee waves and intermediate layer sandwiched by two free shear layers are related to the mode-1 and mode-2 critical control between the sill crest and immediate lee, respectively. Around high tide, lee waves are advected further downstream, and only mode-1 critical control can occur, leading to a warm water depression. The shear instabilities ensuing from the hydraulic transition processes continuously mediate flow kinetic energy to turbulence such that the status of marginal instability where the Richardson number converges at approximately 0.25 is reached. The resultant eddy diffusivity Kρ is concentrated from O(10−4) to O(10−3) m2 s−1 and has a maximum value of 10 m2 s−1. The sill on the western flank of the Kuroshio is a hotspot for energetic mixing of Kuroshio waters and South China Sea waters.

Open access