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Alexander B. Rabinovich
,
Jadranka Šepić
, and
Richard E. Thomson

Abstract

From 12 to 16 October 2016, a series of three major low pressure systems, including the tail end of Typhoon Songda, crossed the coasts of British Columbia (BC) and the state of Washington (WA). Songda was generated on 2 October and, after traveling northward along the coast of Japan, turned eastward toward North America. Once there, it merged with two extratropical cyclones moving along the coast of Vancouver Island. The combined lows generated pronounced storm surges, seiches, and infragravity waves off southern BC and northern WA. Here, we examine the event in terms of sea levels measured by tide gauges and offshore bottom pressure recorders, together with reanalysis data, and high-resolution air pressure and wind measurements from 182 meteorological stations. Surge heights during the event typically exceeded 80 cm, with maximum heights of over 100 cm observed at La Push (WA) and New Westminster (BC). At Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, there was a sharp 40-cm increase in sea level on 14 October in response to a marked air pressure disturbance; slightly lower sea level peaks were also observed at other outer coast locations. In all cases, the sea level response was 1.5–2.5 times as great as that expected from the inverted barometer effect, consistent with local topographic amplification. The sea level oscillations at Tofino had the form of a forced solitary wave (“meteorological tsunami,” or meteotsunami), whereas those on the southwestern shelf off Vancouver Island are well described by classical standing-wave theory. A numerical model closely reproduces the observed meteotsunami peaks and standing-wave oscillations.

Open access
Jia-Jia Chen
and
Xuhua Cheng

Abstract

The Southern Hemisphere temperature has experienced obvious changes with great spatial differences over the past several decades. Most regions show extreme warming, especially those located at 35°–55°S. In contrast, subsurface cooling exists between 15° and 35°S in the Indian and Pacific basins. The subsurface temperature and salinity change can be divided into spiciness change and heave components. The results show the warming due to isopycnal movement being largely offset by significant spiciness cooling at middepth. Surface warming and subduction into the interior ocean account for subsurface spiciness cooling near 45°S, while surface freshening and penetration along isopycnals are more important to the subsurface spiciness cooling farther north. The isobaric temperature change is associated with pure warming and pure heaving, and the subsurface cooling observed in the Indian and Pacific subtropics is predominantly attributed to pure heaving. This study provides a quantitative estimate of the relative contribution of surface temperature, salinity change, and circulation adjustment in subsurface temperature change, highlighting the importance of circulation change in producing subsurface cooling. Further research is needed to understand why different processes dominate in different ocean sections.

Significance Statement

While the global ocean is warming, the subsurface temperature change exhibits a significant regional disparity. This paper attempts to explain the deep-reaching warming at 35°–55°S and cooling at 15°–35°S based on three historical observation datasets. We find that the cooling mostly occurs between 400 and 1000 m in the south Indian and Pacific subtropics (15°–35°S), which is attributed to pure heaving, indicating the importance of circulation change in these regions. The midlatitude warming (35°–55°S) is mainly caused by the pure warming process, which is related to heat uptake at the subpolar surface and northward and downward heat transport. The spiciness cooling near 45°S is mainly driven by the subduction of the surface warming signal while the freshening process has a stronger impact on spiciness cooling farther north.

Restricted access
Zhumin Lu
,
Guihua Wang
,
Xiaodong Shang
, and
Xiaohui Xie

Abstract

The effects of tropical cyclones (TCs) on preexisting eddies are generally quantified by comparing post-TC and pre-TC altimetry-based eddy amplitudes and radii. The dynamical and technical uncertainties in this quantification have been revealed by the altimetry-based and simulated eddy characteristics of five cyclonic ocean eddies (COEs) and two anticyclonic ocean eddies (AOEs). Although demonstrated by eddy cases, both the uncertainties should be universal in principle. The dynamical uncertainty primarily arises from the highly variable eddy characteristics associated with the post-TC quasigeostrophic evolutions driven by the inevitable pattern discrepancy between TC-injection and preexisting eddy’s potential vorticity (PV). The technical uncertainty is due to the artificial smoothness in the altimetry-based eddy characteristics produced by the mismatch between sparse data interpolation and sudden injection of TC-induced effects. Beyond the uncertainties, the amplitudes and radii of both the COEs and AOEs were damped directly by a rectilinear-track TC. After the TC passage, the COEs may strengthen again or remain in the damped state, depending on whether the COEs can absorb the TC-injected PV. By contrast, the AOEs remained in the damped state because the TC-injected positive PV cannot excite them to enhance and enlarge. More importantly, the above damped state of the perturbed COEs and AOEs may be the result of the developing geostrophic turbulence, not meaning the decay of the TC-induced effects. This fact, together with the dynamical and technical uncertainties, implies that the previously used quantification may significantly underestimate the TC-induced effects.

Significance Statement

Typhoons/hurricanes inject their effects on ocean eddies and further modulate the ocean circulation and climate by the accumulated effects. These effects are generally quantified by altimetry observations. Two uncertainties in this quantification are illustrated by using several eddy cases. The first uncertainty is caused by the eddy evolution, while the second is by the artificial smoothness in the altimetry-based eddy characteristics. These findings suggest that the effects of typhoons/hurricanes may be underestimated due to the two uncertainties and underscore that a new method based on physical understanding is necessary to quantify these effects.

Restricted access
Mina Masoud
and
Rich Pawlowicz

Abstract

The Strait of Georgia is a large and deep fjordlike basin on the northeastern Pacific coast whose bottom waters are dramatically renewed by a series of intermittent gravity currents in summer. Here, we analyze a dataset that includes moored observations from 2008 to 2021 and shipborne measurements from a 2018 field program to describe the vertical and cross-channel structure of these gravity currents. We show that the timing of these currents for more than a decade is well predicted by proxy measurements for both tidal mixing strength in the Haro Strait/Boundary Pass region and coastal upwelling on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Renewals occur as an ∼30-m-thick turbid layer extending along the right-hand slope of a broad V-shaped valley that forms the southern end of the strait. Currents are primarily along-isobath at speeds of up to 20 cm s−1 with a small downhill component. A diagnostic analytical model with a depth-dependent eddy viscosity is fitted to the observations and confirms a clockwise rotation of current vectors with height, partly driven by boundary layer dynamics over a scale of a few meters and partly driven by Coriolis forces in the near-bottom linear density gradient. Bottom drag and (small) entrainment parameters are similar to those found in other oceanic situations, and the current is “laminar” with respect to large-scale instabilities (with Froude number ≈1 and Ekman number ≈0.01), although subject to turbulence at small scales (Reynolds number of ∼106). The predictability and reliability of this accessible rotationally modified gravity current suggests that it is an ideal geophysical laboratory for future studies of such features.

Restricted access
Peng Wang
,
James C. McWilliams
,
Dongxiao Wang
, and
Daling Li Yi

Abstract

Upwelling brings deep, cold, and nutrient-rich water to the euphotic zone, enhancing biological primary productivity. Coastal upwelling is affected by various factors, such as winds, topography, and tides. However, it remains unclear how the upwelling is affected by surface waves, particularly the Stokes drift and its related forces, that is, conservative wave effects. Here using a coupled wave–circulation model, we examined how conservative wave effects impact the wind-driven coastal upwelling system over an idealized continental shelf. We showed that conservative wave effects reduce upwelling but enhance downwelling; consequently, the amount of deep cold water brought up to the surface by upwelling is reduced with waves, leading to a weaker upwelling front than that without waves. Conservative wave effects also change the potential vorticity (PV) fluxes across the sea surface/bottom and alter the thickness of surface/bottom negative-PV layers. In addition, conservative wave effects modify the turbulent thermal wind (TTW) associated with the upwelling front, forming a Stokes–TTW balance. Further, we studied sensitivities of the upwelling and downwelling magnitudes to four parameters: wave height, wind stress, shelf slope, and wave incident angle. We combined these parameters into a single nondimensional number that can indicate when conservative wave effects need to be included in the upwelling and downwelling.

Significance Statement

Upwelling is important to the marine ecosystem because it enhances biological primary productivity by bringing nutrient-rich water to the euphotic zone from depths. However, it remains unclear how the upwelling is affected by ubiquitous surface waves. Here using numerical simulations, we showed that Stokes drift and its related forces due to surface waves reduce upwelling but enhance downwelling. It implies that there could be a substantial bias in the estimation of upwelling and downwelling if surface waves are not considered. Further, we proposed a nondimensional number to indicate when surface waves need to be considered in the upwelling and downwelling.

Open access
Hans Burchard
,
Karsten Bolding
,
Xaver Lange
, and
Alexander Osadchiev

Abstract

For Arctic estuaries that are characterized by landfast sea ice cover during the winter season, processes generating estuarine circulation and residual stratification have not yet been investigated, although some of the largest estuaries in the world belong to this class. Landfast sea ice provides a no-slip surface boundary condition in addition to the bottom boundary, such that frictional effects are expected to be increased. For this study of estuarine circulation and residual stratification under landfast sea ice, first, a simple linear analytical model is used. To include tidally varying scenarios, a water-column model is applied with a second-moment turbulence closure to juxtapose free-surface and ice-covered estuaries. Well-mixed and strongly stratified tidally periodic scenarios are analyzed by means of a decomposition of estuarine circulation into contributions from gravitational circulation, eddy viscosity–shear covariance (ESCO), surface stress, and river runoff. A new method is developed to also decompose tidal residual salinity anomaly profiles. Estuarine circulation intensity and tidally residual potential energy anomaly are studied for a parameter space spanned by the Simpson number and the unsteadiness number. These are the major results of this study that will support future scenario studies in Arctic estuaries under conditions of accelerated warming: (i) residual surface drag under ice opposes estuarine circulation; (ii) residual differential advection under ice destabilizes the near-surface flow; (iii) reversal of ESCO during strong stratification does not occur under landfast sea ice; (iv) tidal pumping (s-ESCO) contributes dominantly to residual stratification also with sea ice cover.

Significance Statement

Our work gives a first qualitative and quantitative understanding of how landfast sea ice cover on tidal estuaries impacts on the generation of estuarine circulation and residual stratification. Along the Arctic coasts, where some of the world’s largest estuaries are located, these processes play a significant role for the economy and ecology by means of transports of sediments, nutrients and pollutants. Due to Arctic amplification, the conditions for ice-covered estuaries are strongly changing in a way that the ice-covered periods may be shorter in the future. Our results intend to motivate field observations and realistic model studies to allow for better predicting the consequences of these changes.

Open access
Xueli Yin
,
Dongliang Yuan
,
Xiang Li
,
Zheng Wang
,
Yao Li
,
Corry Corvianawatie
,
Adhitya Kusuma Wardana
,
Dewi Surinati
,
Adi Purwandana
,
Mochamad Furqon Azis Ismail
,
Asep Sandra Budiman
,
Ahmad Bayhaqi
,
Praditya Avianto
,
Edi Kusmanto
,
Priyadi Dwi Santoso
,
Dirhamsyah
, and
Zainal Arifin

Abstract

The mean circulation and volume budgets in the upper 1200 m of the Maluku Sea are studied using multiyear current meter measurements of four moorings in the Maluku Channel and of one synchronous mooring in the Lifamatola Passage. The measurements show that the mean current in the depth range of 60–450 m is northward toward the Pacific Ocean with a mean transport of 2.07–2.60 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). In the depth range of 450–1200 m, a mean western boundary current (WBC) flows southward through the western Maluku Sea and connects with the southward flow in the Lifamatola Passage. The mean currents in the central-eastern Maluku Channel are found to flow northward at this depth range, suggesting an anticlockwise western intensified gyre circulation in the middle layer of the Maluku Sea. Budget analyses suggest that the mean transport of the intermediate WBC is 1.83–2.25 Sv, which is balanced by three transports: 1) 0.62–0.93 Sv southward transport into the Seram–Banda Seas through the Lifamatola Passage, 2) 0.97–1.01 Sv returning to the western Pacific Ocean through the central-eastern Maluku Channel, and 3) a residual transport surplus, suggested to upwell to the upper layer joining the northward transport into the Pacific Ocean. The dynamics of the intermediate gyre circulation are explained by the potential vorticity (PV) integral constraint of a semienclosed basin.

Significance Statement

The Indonesian Throughflow plays an important role in the global ocean circulation and climate variations. Existing studies of the Indonesian Throughflow have focused on the upper thermocline currents. Here we identify, using mooring observations, an intermediate western boundary current with the core at 800–1000-m depth in the Maluku Sea, transporting intermediate waters from the Pacific into the Seram–Banda Seas through the Lifamatola Passage. Potential vorticity balance suggests an anticlockwise gyre circulation in the intermediate Maluku Sea, which is evidenced by the mooring and model data. Transport estimates suggest northward countercurrent in the upper Maluku Sea toward the Pacific, supplied by the Lifamatola Passage transport and upwelling from the intermediate layer in the Maluku Sea. Our results suggest the importance of the intermediate Indonesian Throughflow in global ocean circulation and overturn. More extensive investigations of the Indo-Pacific intermediate ocean circulation should be conducted to improve our understanding of global ocean overturn and heat and CO2 storages.

Restricted access
Kewei Lyu
,
Xuebin Zhang
,
John A. Church
,
Quran Wu
,
Russell Fiedler
, and
Fabio Boeira Dias

Abstract

A rapid warming and freshening of the Southern Ocean have been observed over the past several decades and are attributed to anthropogenic climate change. In this study, ocean model perturbation experiments are conducted to separate roles of individual surface forcing in the Southern Ocean temperature and salinity changes. Model-based findings are compared with results from a theoretical framework including three idealized processes defined on the θS diagram. Under the future scenario of CO2 doubling, the heat flux forcing dominates the large-scale warming, deepening of isopycnals, and spiciness changes along isopycnals, which can be captured by an idealized pure warming process to represent the subduction of surface heat uptake. The poleward-intensifying westerly winds account for 24% of the enhanced warming between 35° and 50°S and would have comparable contribution as the heat flux forcing after removing the global ocean warming effect. In contrast, the widespread freshening in the Southern Ocean driven by increased surface freshwater input is largely compensated by the wind-driven saltening. The response to freshwater forcing could not be approximated as a similar pure freshening process as the induced cooling and freshening have comparable effects on density. The wind-driven changes are primarily through the local heave of isopycnals, thus resembling an idealized pure heave process, but contain considerable spiciness signals especially in the midlatitude Southern Ocean, resulting from anomalous northward transport and subduction of heat and salt that are largely density-compensating. These distinct signatures of individual surface forcing help us to better understand observed and projected changes in the Southern Ocean.

Significance Statement

Considerable changes including a rapid warming and freshening have been observed in the Southern Ocean as it absorbs most of the extra heat from the anthropogenic climate change, receives increased surface freshwater input, and experiences a poleward shift and intensification of the westerly winds. The purpose of this study is to distinguish different contributions from surface heat flux, freshwater flux, and wind forcing to the Southern Ocean temperature and salinity changes, based on ocean model experiments and three idealized processes from a theoretical framework. Our study reveals distinct signatures of individual surface forcing that help us to understand linkages between changes seen at the surface and in the interior Southern Ocean.

Restricted access
Georgy E. Manucharyan
and
Andrew L. Stewart

Abstract

The Beaufort Gyre (BG) is hypothesized to be partially equilibrated by those mesoscale eddies that form via baroclinic instabilities of its currents. However, our understanding of the eddy field’s dependence on the mean BG currents and the role of sea ice remains incomplete. This theoretical study explores the scales and vertical structures of eddies forming specifically due to baroclinic instabilities of interior BG flows. An idealized quasigeostrophic model is used to show that flows driven only by the Ekman pumping contain no interior potential vorticity (PV) gradients and generate weak and large eddies, O ( 200 ) km in size, with predominantly barotropic and first baroclinic mode energy. However, flows containing realistic interior PV gradients in the Pacific halocline layer generate significantly smaller eddies of about 50 km in size, with a distinct second baroclinic mode structure and a subsurface kinetic energy maximum. The dramatic change in eddy characteristics is shown to be caused by the stirring of interior PV gradients by large-scale barotropic eddies. The sea ice–ocean drag is identified as the dominant eddy dissipation mechanism, leading to realistic subsurface maxima of eddy kinetic energy for drag coefficients higher than about 2 × 10−3. A scaling law is developed for the eddy potential enstrophy, demonstrating that it is directly proportional to the interior PV gradient and the square root of the barotropic eddy kinetic energy. This study proposes a possible formation mechanism of large BG eddies and points to the importance of accurate representation of the interior PV gradients and eddy dissipation by ice–ocean drag in BG simulations and theory.

Open access
Guang-Bing Yang
,
Changshui Xia
,
Xia Ju
,
Quanan Zheng
,
Yeli Yuan
,
Xue-Jun Xiong
, and
Fangli Qiao

Abstract

Previous in situ observations have suggested that bottom water temperature variations in shelf seas can drive significant ocean bottom heat flux (BHF) by heat conduction. The BHF-driven bottom water temperature variations, however, have been overlooked in ocean general circulation models. In this study, we established a sea-sediment fully coupled model through incorporating the BHF. The coupled model included a sediment temperature module/model, and the BHF was calculated based on the sediment heat content variations. Meanwhile, we applied temporally varying BHF in the calculation of the bottom water temperature, which further determined the sediment temperature. The two-way coupled BHF process presents a more complete and physically reasonable heat budget in the ocean model and a synchronously varying sediment temperature profile. The coupled model was validated using a one-dimensional test case, and then it was applied in a domain covering the Bohai and Yellow Seas. The results suggest that when a strong thermocline exists, the BHF can change the bottom water temperature by more than 1°C because the effects of the BHF are limited to within a shallow bottom layer. However, when the water column is well mixed, the BHF changes the temperature of the entire water column, and the heat transported across the bottom boundary is ventilated to the atmosphere. Thus, the BHF has less effect on water temperature and may directly affect air–sea heat flux. The sea-sediment interactions dampen the amplitude of the bottom water temperature variations, which we propose calling the seabed dampening ocean heat content variation mechanism (SDH).

Open access