Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 6,806 items for :

  • Journal of Physical Oceanography x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All
Alice S. Ren and Daniel L. Rudnick

Abstract

Though subthermocline eddies (STEs) have often been observed in the world oceans, characteristics of STEs such as their patterns of generation and propagation are less understood. Here, the across-shore propagation of STEs in the California Current System (CCS) is observed and described using 13 years of sustained coastal glider measurements on three glider transect lines off central and southern California as part of the California Underwater Glider Network (CUGN). The across-shore propagation speed of anticyclonic STEs is estimated as 1.35–1.49 ± 0.33 cm s−1 over the three transects, line 66.7, line 80.0, and line 90.0, close to the westward long first baroclinic Rossby wave speed in the region. Anticyclonic STEs are found with high salinity, high temperature, and low dissolved oxygen anomalies in their cores, consistent with transporting California Undercurrent water from the coast to offshore. Comparisons to satellite sea level anomaly indicate that STEs are only weakly correlated to a sea surface height expression. The observations suggest that STEs are important for the salt balance and mixing of water masses across-shore in the CCS.

Restricted access
Valentin Resseguier, Bertrand Chapron, and Etienne Mémin

Abstract

Ocean eddies play an important role in the transport of heat, salt, nutrients, or pollutants. During a finite-time advection, the gradients of these tracers can increase or decrease, depending on a growth rate and the angle between flow gradients and initial tracer gradients. The growth rate is directly related to finite-time Lyapunov exponents. Numerous studies on mixing and/or tracer downscaling methods rely on satellite altimeter-derived ocean velocities. Filtering most oceanic small-scale eddies, the resulting smooth Eulerian velocities are often stationary during the characteristic time of tracer gradient growth. While smooth, these velocity fields are still locally misaligned, and thus uncorrelated, to many coarse-scale tracer observations amendable to downscaling [e.g., sea surface temperature (SST), sea surface salinity (SSS)]. Using finite-time advections, the averaged squared norm of tracer gradients can then only increase, with local growth rate independent of the initial coarse-scale tracer distribution. The key mixing processes are then only governed by locally uniform shears and foldings around stationary convective cells. To predict the tracer deformations and the evolution of their second-order statistics, an efficient proxy is proposed. Applied to a single velocity snapshot, this proxy extends the Okubo–Weiss criterion. For the Lagrangian-advection-based downscaling methods, it further successfully predicts the evolution of tracer spectral energy density after a finite time, and the optimal time to stop the downscaling operation. A practical estimation can then be proposed to define an effective parameterization of the horizontal eddy diffusivity.

Significance Statement

An analytical formalism is adopted to derive new exact and approximate relations that express the clustering of tracers transported by upper-ocean flows. This formalism bridges previous Eulerian and Lagrangian approaches. Accordingly, for slow and smooth upper-ocean flows, a rapid prognosis estimate can solely be performed using single-time velocity field observations. Well suited to satellite-altimeter measurements, it will help rapidly identify and monitor mixing regions occurring in the vicinity of ocean eddy boundaries.

Restricted access
Timour Radko, James C. McWilliams, and Georgi G. Sutyrin

Abstract

We explore the dynamics of baroclinic instability in westward flows using an asymptotic weakly nonlinear model. The proposed theory is based on the multilayer quasigeostrophic framework, which is reduced to a system governed by a single nonlinear prognostic equation for the upper layer. The dynamics of deeper layers are represented by linear diagnostic relations. A major role in the statistical equilibration of baroclinic instability is played by the latent zonally elongated modes. These structures form spontaneously in baroclinically unstable systems and effectively suppress the amplification of primary unstable modes. Special attention is given to the effects of bottom friction, which is shown to control both linear and nonlinear properties of baroclinic instability. The reduced-dynamics model is validated by a series of numerical simulations.

Restricted access
Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, Xiaolong Yu, Jörn Callies, Roy Barkan, Kurt L. Polzin, Eleanor E. Frajka-Williams, Christian E. Buckingham, and Stephen M. Griffies

Abstract

Mesoscale eddies contain the bulk of the ocean’s kinetic energy (KE), but fundamental questions remain on the cross-scale KE transfers linking eddy generation and dissipation. The role of submesoscale flows represents the key point of discussion, with contrasting views of submesoscales as either a source or a sink of mesoscale KE. Here, the first observational assessment of the annual cycle of the KE transfer between mesoscale and submesoscale motions is performed in the upper layers of a typical open-ocean region. Although these diagnostics have marginal statistical significance and should be regarded cautiously, they are physically plausible and can provide a valuable benchmark for model evaluation. The cross-scale KE transfer exhibits two distinct stages, whereby submesoscales energize mesoscales in winter and drain mesoscales in spring. Despite this seasonal reversal, an inverse KE cascade operates throughout the year across much of the mesoscale range. Our results are not incompatible with recent modeling investigations that place the headwaters of the inverse KE cascade at the submesoscale, and that rationalize the seasonality of mesoscale KE as an inverse cascade-mediated response to the generation of submesoscales in winter. However, our findings may challenge those investigations by suggesting that, in spring, a downscale KE transfer could dampen the inverse KE cascade. An exploratory appraisal of the dynamics governing mesoscale–submesoscale KE exchanges suggests that the upscale KE transfer in winter is underpinned by mixed layer baroclinic instabilities, and that the downscale KE transfer in spring is associated with frontogenesis. Current submesoscale-permitting ocean models may substantially understate this downscale KE transfer, due to the models’ muted representation of frontogenesis.

Restricted access
Tianyu Wang, Yan Du, and Minyang Wang

Abstract

An Argo simulation system is used to provide synthetic Lagrangian trajectories based on the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean Model, phase II (ECCO2). In combination with ambient Eulerian velocity at the reference layer (1000 m) from the model, quantitative metrics of the Lagrangian trajectory–derived velocities are computed. The result indicates that the biases induced by the derivation algorithm are strongly linked with ocean dynamics. In low latitudes, Ekman currents and vertically sheared geostrophic currents influence both the magnitude and the direction of the derivation velocity vectors. The maximal shear-induced biases exist near the equator with the amplitudes reaching up to about 1.2 cm s−1. The angles of the shear biases are pronounced in the low-latitude oceans, ranging from −8° to 8°. Specifically, the study shows an overlooked bias from the float drifting motions that mainly occurs in the western boundary current and Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) regions. In these regions, a recently reported horizontal acceleration measured via Lagrangian floats is significantly associated with the strong eddy–jet interactions. The acceleration could induce an overestimation of Eulerian current velocity magnitudes. For the common Argo floats with a 9-day float parking period, the derivation speed biases induced by velocity acceleration would be as large as 3 cm s−1, approximately 12% of the ambient velocity. It might have implications to map the mean middepth ocean currents from Argo trajectories, as well as to understand the dynamics of eddy–jet interactions in the ocean.

Restricted access
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.

Restricted access
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.

Restricted access
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.

Open access
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