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Dehai Song, Wen Wu, and Qiang Li

Abstract

Bay–shelf exchange is critical to coastal systems because it promotes self-purification or pollution dilution of the systems. In this study, the effects of wave–current interactions on bay–shelf exchange are explored in a micromesotidal system—Daya Bay in southern China. Waves can enlarge the shear-induced seaward transport and reduce the residual-current-induced landward transport, which benefits the bay–shelf exchange; however, tides work oppositely and slow the wave-induced bay–shelf exchange through vertical mixing and reduced shear-induced exchange. Five wave–current interactions are compared, and it is found that the depth-dependent wave radiation stress (WRS) contributes most to the bay–shelf exchange, followed by the wave dissipation as a source term in the turbulence kinetic energy equation, and the mean current advection and refraction of wave energy (CARWE). The vertical transfer of wave-generated pressure to the mean momentum equation (also known as the form drag) and the combined wave–current bottom stress (CWCBS) play minor roles in the bay–shelf exchange. The bay–shelf exchange is faster under southerly wind than under northerly wind because the bay is facing southeast; synoptic events such as storms enhance the bay–shelf exchange. The CARWE terms are dominant in both seasonal and synoptic variations of the bay–shelf exchange because they can considerably change the distribution of significant wave height. The WRS changes the bay–shelf exchange mainly through altering the flow velocity, whereas the wave dissipation on turbulence alters the vertical mixing. The form drag and the CWCBS have little impact on the bay–shelf exchange or its seasonal and synoptic variations.

Open access
Christopher G. Piecuch, Ichiro Fukumori, and Rui M. Ponte

Abstract

Satellite observations are used to establish the dominant magnitudes, scales, and mechanisms of intraseasonal variability in ocean dynamic sea level (ζ) in the Persian Gulf over 2002–15. Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis applied to altimetry data reveals a basinwide, single-signed intraseasonal fluctuation that contributes importantly to ζ variance in the Persian Gulf at monthly to decadal time scales. An EOF analysis of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) observations over the same period returns a similar large-scale mode of intraseasonal variability, suggesting that the basinwide intraseasonal ζ variation has a predominantly barotropic nature. A linear barotropic theory is developed to interpret the data. The theory represents Persian Gulf average ζ (ζ¯) in terms of local freshwater flux, barometric pressure, and wind stress forcing, as well as ζ at the boundary in the Gulf of Oman. The theory is tested using a multiple linear regression with these freshwater flux, barometric pressure, wind stress, and boundary ζ quantities as input and ζ¯ as output. The regression explains 70% ± 9% (95% confidence interval) of the intraseasonal ζ¯ variance. Numerical values of regression coefficients computed empirically from the data are consistent with theoretical expectations from first principles. Results point to a substantial nonisostatic response to surface loading. The Gulf of Oman ζ boundary condition shows lagged correlation with ζ upstream along the Indian subcontinent, Maritime Continent, and equatorial Indian Ocean, suggesting a large-scale Indian Ocean influence on intraseasonal ζ¯ variation mediated by coastal and equatorial waves and hinting at potential predictability. This study highlights the value of GRACE for understanding sea level in an understudied marginal sea.

Open access
Anna-Lena Deppenmeier, Frank O. Bryan, William S. Kessler, and LuAnne Thompson

Abstract

The tropical Pacific Ocean cold tongue (CT) plays a major role in the global climate system. The strength of the CT sets the zonal temperature gradient in the Pacific that couples with the atmospheric Walker circulation. This coupling is an essential component of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The CT is supplied with cold water by the Equatorial Undercurrent that follows the thermocline as it shoals toward the east, adiabatically transporting cold water toward the surface. As the thermocline shoals, its water is transformed through diabatic processes, producing water mass transformation (WMT) that allows water to cross mean isotherms. Here, we examine WMT in the cold-tongue region from a global high-resolution ocean simulation with saved budget terms that close its heat budget exactly. Using the terms of the heat budget, we quantify each individual component of WMT (vertical mixing, horizontal mixing, eddy fluxes, and solar penetration) and find that vertical mixing is the single most important contribution in the thermocline and solar heating dominates close to the surface. Horizontal diffusion is much smaller. During El Niño events, vertical mixing, and hence cross-isothermal flow as a whole, are much reduced, whereas, during La Niña periods, strong vertical mixing leads to strong WMT, thereby cooling the surface. This analysis demonstrates the enhancement of diabatic processes during cold events, which in turn enhances cooling of the CT from below the surface.

Open access
Jody M. Klymak, Dhruv Balwada, Alberto Naveira Garabato, and Ryan Abernathey

Abstract

Slowly evolving stratified flow over rough topography is subject to substantial drag due to internal motions, but often numerical simulations are carried out at resolutions where this “wave” drag must be parameterized. Here we highlight the importance of internal drag from topography with scales that cannot radiate internal waves, but may be highly nonlinear, and we propose a simple parameterization of this drag that has a minimum of fit parameters compared to existing schemes. The parameterization smoothly transitions from a quadratic drag law (~hu02) for low Nh/u 0 (linear wave dynamics) to a linear drag law (~h2u0N) for high Nh/u 0 flows (nonlinear blocking and hydraulic dynamics), where N is the stratification, h is the height of the topography, and u 0 is the near-bottom velocity; the parameterization does not have a dependence on Coriolis frequency. Simulations carried out in a channel with synthetic bathymetry and steady body forcing indicate that this parameterization accurately predicts drag across a broad range of forcing parameters when the effect of reduced near-bottom mixing is taken into account by reducing the effective height of the topography. The parameterization is also tested in simulations of wind-driven channel flows that generate mesoscale eddy fields, a setup where the downstream transport is sensitive to the bottom drag parameterization and its effect on the eddies. In these simulations, the parameterization replicates the effect of rough bathymetry on the eddies. If extrapolated globally, the subinertial topographic scales can account for 2.7 TW of work done on the low-frequency circulation, an important sink that is redistributed to mixing in the open ocean.

Open access
Jihai Dong, Baylor Fox-Kemper, Hong Zhang, and Changming Dong

Abstract

Symmetric instability (SI) extracts kinetic energy from fronts in the surface mixed layer (SML), potentially affecting the SML structure and dynamics. Here, a global submesoscale-permitting ocean model named MITgcm LLC4320 simulation is used to examine the Stone linear prediction of the maximum SI scale to estimate grid spacings needed to begin resolving SI. Furthermore, potential effects of SI on the usable wind work are estimated roughly: this estimate of SI “activity” is useful for assessing if these modes should be resolved or parameterized. The maximum SI scale varies by latitude with median values from 568 to 23 m. Strong seasonality is observed in the SI scale and activity. The median scale in winter is 188 m globally, 2.5 times of that of summer (75 m). SI is more active in winter: 15% of the time compared with 6% in summer. The strongest SI activity is found in the western Pacific, western Atlantic, and Southern Oceans. The required grid spacings for a global model to begin resolving SI eddies in the SML are 24 m (50% of regions resolved) and 7.9 m (90%) in winter, decreasing to 9.4 m (50%) and 3.6 m (90%) in summer. It is also estimated that SI may reduce usable wind work by an upper bound of 0.83 mW m−2 globally, or 5% of the global magnitude. The sensitivity of these estimates to empirical thresholds is provided in the text.

Open access
Etienne Pauthenet, Jean-Baptiste Sallée, Sunke Schmidtko, and David Nerini

Abstract

The Antarctic Slope Front (ASF) is a fundamental feature of the subpolar Southern Ocean that is still poorly observed. In this study we build a statistical climatology of the temperature and salinity fields of the upper 380 m of the Antarctic margin. We use a comprehensive compilation of observational datasets including the profiles gathered by instrumented marine mammals. The mapping method consists first of a decomposition in vertical modes of the combined temperature and salinity profiles. Then the resulting principal components are optimally interpolated on a regular grid and the monthly climatological profiles are reconstructed, providing a physically plausible representation of the ocean. The ASF is located with a contour method and a gradient method applied on the temperature field, two complementary approaches that provide a complete view of the ASF structure. The front extends from the Amundsen Sea to the eastern Weddell Sea and closely tracks the continental shelf break. It is associated with a sharp temperature gradient that is stronger in winter and weaker in summer. The emergence of the front in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen sectors appears to be seasonally variable (slightly more westward in winter than in summer). Investigation of the density gradients across the shelf break indicates a winter slowdown of the baroclinic component of the Antarctic Slope Current at the near surface, in contrast with the seasonal variability of the temperature gradient.

Open access
Suneil Iyer and Kyla Drushka

Abstract

Observations of salinity, temperature, and turbulent dissipation rate were made in the top meter of the ocean using the ship-towed Surface Salinity Profiler as part of the second Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study (SPURS-2) to assess the relationships between wind, rain, near-surface stratification, and turbulence. A wide range of wind and rain conditions were observed in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean near 10°N, 125°W in summer–autumn 2016 and 2017. Wind was the primary driver of near-surface turbulence and the mixing of rain-formed fresh lenses, with lenses generally persisting for hours when wind speeds were under 5 m s−1 and mixing away immediately at higher wind speeds. Rain influenced near-surface turbulence primarily through stratification. Near-surface stratification caused by rainfall or diurnal warming suppressed deeper turbulent dissipation rates when wind speeds were under 3 m s−1. In one case with 4–5 m s−1 winds, rain-induced stratification enhanced dissipation rates within the stratified layer. At wind speeds above 7–8 m s−1, strong stratification was not observed in the upper meter during rain, indicating that rain lenses do not form at wind speeds above 8 m s−1. Raindrop impacts enhanced turbulent dissipation rates at these high wind speeds in the absence of near-surface stratification. Measurements of air–sea buoyancy flux, wind speed, and near-surface turbulence can be used to predict the presence of stratified layers. These findings could be used to improve model parameterizations of air–sea interactions and, ultimately, our understanding of the global water cycle.

Open access
Xiaoyan Wei, Henk M. Schuttelaars, Megan E. Williams, Jennifer M. Brown, Peter D. Thorne, and Laurent O. Amoudry

Abstract

Asymmetric tidal turbulence (ATT) strongly influences estuarine health and functioning. However, its impact on the three-dimensional estuarine dynamics and the feedback of water motion and salinity distribution on ATT remain poorly understood, especially for short estuaries (estuarine length ≪ tidal wavelength). This study systematically investigates the abovementioned interactions in a short estuary for the first time, considering periodically weakly stratified conditions. This is done by developing a three-dimensional semi-analytical model (combining perturbation method with finite element method) that allows a dissection of the contributions of different processes to ATT, estuarine circulation, and salt transport. The generation of ATT is dominated by (i) strain-induced periodic stratification and (ii) asymmetric bottom-shear-generated turbulence, and their contributions to ATT are different both in amplitude and phase. The magnitude of the residual circulation related to ATT and the eddy viscosity–shear covariance (ESCO) is about half of that of the gravitational circulation (GC) and shows a “reversed” pattern as compared to GC. ATT generated by strain-induced periodic stratification contributes to an ESCO circulation with a spatial structure similar to GC. This circulation reduces the longitudinal salinity gradients and thus weakens GC. Contrastingly, the ESCO circulation due to asymmetric bottom-shear-generated turbulence shows patterns opposite to GC and acts to enhance GC. Concerning the salinity dynamics at steady state, GC and tidal pumping are equally important to salt import, whereas ESCO circulation yields a significant seaward salt transport. These findings highlight the importance of identifying the sources of ATT to understand its impact on estuarine circulation and salt distribution.

Open access
J. Thomas Farrar, Theodore Durland, Steven R. Jayne, and James F. Price

Abstract

Measurements from satellite altimetry are used to show that sea-surface height (SSH) variability throughout much of the North Pacific is coherent with the SSH signal of the tropical instability waves (TIWs) that result from instabilities of the equatorial currents. This variability has regular phase patterns consistent with freely propagating barotropic Rossby waves radiating energy away from the unstable equatorial currents, and the waves clearly propagate from the equatorial region to at least 30°N. The pattern of SSH variance at TIW frequencies exhibits remarkable patchiness on scales of hundreds of kilometers, which we interpret as being due to the combined effects of wave reflection, refraction, and interference. North of 40°N, more than 6000 km from the unstable equatorial currents, the SSH field remains coherent with the near-equatorial SSH variability, but it is not as clear whether the variability at the higher latitudes is a simple result of barotropic wave radiation from the tropical instability waves. Even more distant regions, as far north as the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska and the Kamchatka Peninsula of eastern Russia, have SSH variability that is significantly coherent with the near-equatorial instabilities. The variability is not well represented in the widely used gridded SSH data product commonly referred to as the AVISO or DUACS product, and this appears to be a result of spatial variations in the filtering properties of the objective mapping scheme.

Open access
Lu Han, Harvey Seim, John Bane, Robert E. Todd, and Mike Muglia

Abstract

Carbon-rich Middle Atlantic Bight (MAB) and South Atlantic Bight (SAB) shelf waters typically converge on the continental shelf near Cape Hatteras. Both are often exported to the adjacent open ocean in this region. During a survey of the region in mid-January 2018, there was no sign of shelf water export at the surface. Instead, a subsurface layer of shelf water with high chlorophyll and dissolved oxygen was observed at the edge of the Gulf Stream east of Cape Hatteras. Strong cooling over the MAB and SAB shelves in early January led to shelf waters being denser than offshore surface waters. Driven by the density gradient, the denser shelf waters cascaded beneath the Gulf Stream and were subsequently entrained into the Gulf Stream, as they were advected northeastward. Underwater glider observations 80 km downstream of the export location captured 0.44 Sv of shelf waters transported along the edge of the Gulf Stream in January 2018. In total, as much as 7×106 kg of carbon was exported from the continental shelf to a greater depth in the open ocean during this 5-day-long cascading event. Earlier observations of near-bottom temperature and salinity at a depth of 230 m captured several multiday episodes of shelf water at a location that was otherwise dominated by Gulf Stream water, indicating that the January 2018 cascading event was not unique. Cascading is an important, yet little-studied pathway of carbon export and sequestration at Cape Hatteras.

Open access