Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 8,285 items for :

  • Journal of Physical Oceanography x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All
Thilo Klenz, Harper L. Simmons, Luca Centurioni, Jonathan M. Lilly, Jeffrey J. Early, and Verena Hormann

Abstract

The Minimet is a Lagrangian surface drifter measuring near-surface winds in situ. Ten Minimets were deployed in the Iceland Basin over the course of two field seasons in 2018 and 2019. We compared Minimet wind measurements to coincident ship winds from the R/V Armstrong meteorology package and to hourly ERA5 reanalysis winds and found that the Minimets accurately captured wind variability across a variety of time scales. Comparisons between the ship, Minimets, and ERA5 winds point to significant discrepancies between the in situ wind measurements and ERA5, with the most reasonable explanation being related to spatial offsets of small-scale storm structures in the reanalysis model. After a general assessment of the Minimet performance, we compare estimates of wind power input in the near-inertial band using the Minimet winds and their measured drift to those using ERA5 winds and the Minimet drift. Minimet-derived near-inertial wind power estimates exceed those from Minimet drift combined with ERA5 winds by about 42%. The results highlight the importance of accurately capturing small-scale, high-frequency wind events and suggest that in situ Minimet measurements are beneficial for accurately quantifying near-inertial wind work on the ocean.

Significance Statement

In this study we introduce a novel, freely drifting wind measurement platform, the Minimet. After an initial validation of Minimet sea surface wind measurements against independent wind measurements from a nearby research vessel, we investigate their utility in context of the near-inertial work done by the wind on the ocean, which is important for the ocean’s energy budget. We find Minimet near-inertial wind work estimates exceed those estimated using winds from a state-of-the-art wind product by 42%. Our results indicate that capturing storm events happening on time scales less than 12 h is crucial for accurately quantifying near-inertial wind work on the ocean, making wind measurements from platforms such as the Minimet invaluable for these analyses.

Open access
Ina Teutsch and Ralf Weisse

Abstract

The role of the modulational instability for rogue wave generation in the ocean is still under debate. We investigated a continuous data set, consisting of buoy and radar wave elevation data of different frequency resolutions, from eight measurement stations in the southern North Sea. For periods with rogue waves, we evaluated the presence of conditions for the modulational instability to work, that is, a narrow-banded wave spectrum in both, frequency and angular direction. We found rogue waves exceeding twice the significant wave height indeed to occur at slightly lower frequency bandwidths than usual. For rogue waves that are defined only by high crests, this was, however, not the case. The results were dependent on the measurement frequency. The directional spreading of the buoy spectra yielded no information on the presence of a rogue wave. In general, all spectra estimated from the data set were found to be broad in frequency and angular direction, while the Benjamin–Feir index yielded no indication on a high nonlinearity of the sea states. These are unfavorable conditions for the evolution of a rogue wave through modulational instability. We conclude that the modulational instability did not play a substantial role in the formation of the rogue waves identified in our data set from the southern North Sea.

Restricted access
Zhibin Yang, Zhao Jing, and Xiaoming Zhai

Abstract

Mesoscale eddies are ubiquitous dynamical features, accounting for over 90% of the total kinetic energy of the ocean. However, the pathway for eddy energy dissipation has not been fully understood. Here we investigate the effect of small-scale topography on eddy dissipation in the northern South China Sea by comparing high-resolution ocean simulations with smooth and synthetically generated rough topography. The presence of rough topography is found to 1) significantly enhance viscous dissipation and instabilities within a few hundred meters above the rough bottom, especially in the slope region, and 2) change the relative importance of energy dissipation by bottom frictional drag and interior viscosity. The role of lee wave generation in eddy energy dissipation is investigated using a Lagrangian filter method. About one-third of the enhanced viscous energy dissipation in the rough topography experiment is associated with lee wave energy dissipation, with the remaining two-thirds explained by nonwave energy dissipation, at least partly as a result of the nonpropagating form drag effect.

Restricted access
Luc Rainville, Craig M. Lee, K. Arulananthan, S. U. P. Jinadasa, Harindra J. S. Fernando, W. N. C. Priyadarshani, and Hemantha Wijesekera

Abstract

We present high-resolution sustained, persistent observations of the ocean around Sri Lanka from autonomous gliders collected over several years, a region with complex, variable circulation patterns connecting the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea to each other and the rest of the Indian Ocean. The Seaglider surveys resolve seasonal to interannual variability in vertical and horizontal structure, allowing quantification of volume, heat, and freshwater fluxes, as well as the transformations and transports of key water mass classes across sections normal to the east (2014–15) and south (2016–19) coasts of Sri Lanka. The resulting transports point to the importance of both surface and subsurface flows and show that the direct pathway along the Sri Lankan coast plays a significant role in the exchanges of waters between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Significant section-to-section variability highlights the need for sustained, long-term observations to quantify the circulation pathways and dynamics associated with exchange between the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea and provides context for interpreting observations collected as “snapshots” of more limited duration.

Significance Statement

The strong seasonal variations of the wind in the Indian Ocean create large and rapid changes in the ocean’s properties near Sri Lanka. This variable and poorly observed circulation is very important for how temperature and salinity are distributed across the northern Indian Ocean, both at the surface and at depths. Long-term and repeated surveys from autonomous Seagliders allow us to understand how freshwater inflow, atmospheric forcing, and underlying ocean variability act to produce observed contrasts (spatial and seasonal) in upper-ocean structure of the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.

Open access
Xihan Zhang, Maxim Nikurashin, Beatriz Peña-Molino, Stephen R. Rintoul, and Edward Doddridge

Abstract

Standing meanders of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and associated eddy hotspots play an important role for the meridional heat flux and downward momentum transfer in the Southern Ocean. Previous modelling studies show that the vorticity balance characterising standing meanders in the upper ocean is dominated by advection of relative vorticity and stretching. Through the adjustment of this vorticity balance, standing meanders have been suggested to provide a pathway for the transfer of the momentum input by the wind from the surface to the bottom, leading to stronger bottom flows and energy dissipation. However, the dynamics governing the meander formation and its adjustment to wind remain unclear. Here we develop a quasi-geostrophic theory and combine it with a regional model of the Macquarie Ridge region and an idealized channel model to explore the dynamics and vertical structure of standing meanders of the ACC. The results show that the entire vertical structure of the meander, including its dynamics in the upper ocean, is controlled by the bottom flow interacting with topography. Based on our results, we suggest a novel mechanism for the response of the ACC to wind in which ‘flexing’ of the meander, or change in its curvature, is a response to changes in the bottom (barotropic) flow. Stronger bottom flow in response to stronger wind interacts with topography and generates a larger amplitude Rossby wave propagating into the upper ocean. The ACC mean shear aloft amplifies the Rossby wave and leads to a larger amplitude meander in the upper ocean dominated by advection of relative vorticity and stretching.

Restricted access
Martin Lazar, Maja Bubalo, and Josip Begić

Abstract

The paper investigates switches of circulation orientation in inland basins, either at the surface or near the bottom. The study is based on an analytical 2D model used to simulate thermohaline circulation in lakes and inland seas. The model allows different density profiles varying in both horizontal and vertical directions. By assuming some simplifications (such as steady state, vanishing of an alongshore variability, and flat bottom), we are able to obtain an explicit expression of the circulation in the central transverse section of an elongated basin. Starting from three typical density profiles (bottom dense water, surface light water, and a combination of the two), the model reveals different circulation types (cyclonic and anticyclonic surface circulation, either prevailing along the whole vertical column or accompanied by an opposite circulation in the bottom layer). In addition, we analyze the impact of friction coefficients and basin dimensions on the switch from one circulation type to another. The simplified assumptions turn out not to be limiting, as other studies have shown that they do not change the main flow characteristics. More importantly, the results obtained are in keeping with empirical findings, numerical simulations, and physical experiments studied elsewhere.

Restricted access
Kathryn L. Gunn, K McMonigal, Lisa M. Beal, and Shane Elipot

Abstract

The global freshwater cycle is intensifying: wet regions are prone to more rainfall, while dry regions experience more drought. Indian Ocean rim countries are especially vulnerable to these changes, but its oceanic freshwater budget—which records the basinwide balance between evaporation, precipitation, and runoff—has only been quantified at three points in time (1987, 2002, 2009). Due to this paucity of observations and large model biases, we cannot yet be sure how the Indian Ocean’s freshwater cycle has responded to climate change, nor by how much it varies at seasonal and monthly time scales. To bridge this gap, we estimate the magnitude and variability of the Indian Ocean’s freshwater budget using monthly varying oceanic data from May 2016 through April 2018. Freshwater converged into the basin with a mean rate and standard error of 0.35 ± 0.07 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), indicating that basinwide air–sea fluxes are net evaporative. This balance is maintained by salty waters leaving the basin via the Agulhas Current and fresher waters entering northward across the southern boundary and via the Indonesian Throughflow. For the first time, we quantify seasonal and monthly variability in Indian Ocean freshwater convergence to find amplitudes of 0.33 and 0.16 Sv, respectively, where monthly changes reflect variability in oceanic, rather than air–sea, fluxes. Compared with the range of previous estimates plus independent measurements from a reanalysis product, we conclude that the Indian Ocean has remained net evaporative since the 1980s, in contrast to long-term changes in its heat budget. When disentangling anthropogenic-driven changes, these observations of decadal and intra-annual natural variability should be taken into account.

Open access
Erin M. Broatch and Parker MacCready

Abstract

A salinity variance framework is used to study mixing in the Salish Sea, a large fjordal estuary. Output from a realistic numerical model is used to create salinity variance budgets for individual basins within the Salish Sea for 2017–19. The salinity variance budgets are used to quantify the mixing in each basin and estimate the numerical mixing, which is found to contribute about one-third of the total mixing in the model. Whidbey Basin has the most intense mixing, due to its shallow depth and large river flow. Unlike in most other estuarine systems previously studied using the salinity variance method, mixing in the Salish Sea is controlled by the river flow and does not exhibit a pronounced spring–neap cycle. A “mixedness” analysis is used to determine when mixed water is expelled from the estuary. The river flow is correlated with mixed water removal, but the coupling is not as tight as with the mixing. Because the mixing is so highly correlated with the river flow, the long-term average approximation M = Qrs out s in can be used to predict the mixing in the Salish Sea and Puget Sound with good accuracy, even without any temporal averaging. Over a 3-yr average, the mixing in Puget Sound is directly related to the exchange flow salt transport.

Open access
Lina Yang, Raghu Murtugudde, Shaojun Zheng, Peng Liang, Wei Tan, Lei Wang, Baoxin Feng, and Tianyu Zhang

Abstract

The tropical Pacific currents from January 2004 to December 2018 are computed based on the gridded Argo temperatures and salinities using the P-vector method on an f plane and the geostrophic approximation on a β plane. Three branches of the South Equatorial Current (SEC) are identified, i.e., SEC(N) (2°S–5°N), SEC(M) (7°–3°S), and SEC(S) (20°–8°S), with the maximum zonal velocity of −55 cm s−1 and total volume transport of −49.8 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) occurring in the central-east Pacific. The seasonal variability of each branch shows a distinct and different westward propagation of zonal current anomalies, which are well mirrored by the SLA differences between 2°S and 5°N, between 3°S and 6°S, and between 8°S and 15°S, respectively. Most of the seasonal variations are successfully simulated by a simple analytical Rossby wave model, highlighting the significance of the first-mode baroclinic, linear Rossby waves, particularly those driven by the wind stress curl in the central-east Pacific. However, the linear theory fails to explain the SEC(M) variations in certain months in the central-east Pacific, where the first baroclinic mode contributes only around 50% of the explained variance to the equatorial surface currents. A nonlinear model involving higher baroclinic modes is suggested for a further diagnosis. Considering the crucial role played by the tropical Pacific in the natural climate variability via the El Niño–Southern Ocean dynamics and the ocean response to anthropogenic forcing via the ocean heat uptake in the eastern tropical Pacific, advancing the process understanding of the SEC from observations is critical.

Restricted access
Laur Ferris, Donglai Gong, Carol Anne Clayson, Sophia Merrifield, Emily L. Shroyer, Madison Smith, and Louis St. Laurent

Abstract

The ocean surface boundary layer is a gateway of energy transfer into the ocean. Wind-driven shear and meteorologically forced convection inject turbulent kinetic energy into the surface boundary layer, mixing the upper ocean and transforming its density structure. In the absence of direct observations or the capability to resolve subgrid-scale 3D turbulence in operational ocean models, the oceanography community relies on surface boundary layer similarity scalings (BLS) of shear and convective turbulence to represent this mixing. Despite their importance, near-surface mixing processes (and ubiquitous BLS representations of these processes) have been undersampled in high-energy forcing regimes such as the Southern Ocean. With the maturing of autonomous sampling platforms, there is now an opportunity to collect high-resolution spatial and temporal measurements in the full range of forcing conditions. Here, we characterize near-surface turbulence under strong wind forcing using the first long-duration glider microstructure survey of the Southern Ocean. We leverage these data to show that the measured turbulence is significantly higher than standard shear-convective BLS in the shallower parts of the surface boundary layer and lower than standard shear-convective BLS in the deeper parts of the surface boundary layer; the latter of which is not easily explained by present wave-effect literature. Consistent with the CBLAST (Coupled Boundary Layers and Air Sea Transfer) low winds experiment, this bias has the largest magnitude and spread in the shallowest 10% of the actively mixing layer under low-wind and breaking wave conditions, when relatively low levels of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) in surface regime are easily biased by wave events.

Significance Statement

Wind blows across the ocean, turbulently mixing the water close to the surface and altering its properties. Without the ability to measure turbulence in remote locations, oceanographers use approximations called boundary layer scalings (BLS) to estimate the amount of turbulence caused by the wind. We compared turbulence measured by an underwater robot to turbulence estimated from wind speed to determine how well BLS performs in stormy places. We found that in both calm and stormy conditions, estimates are 10 times too large closest to the surface and 10 times too small deeper within the turbulently mixed surface ocean.

Open access