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Jim Thomas
and
R. Vishnu

Abstract

Oceanic flows are energetically dominated by low vertical modes. However, disturbances in the form of atmospheric storms, eddy interactions with various forms of boundaries, or spontaneous emission by coherent structures can generate weak high-baroclinic modes. The feedback of the low-energy high-baroclinic modes on large-scale energetically dominant low modes may be weak or strong depending on the flow Rossby number. In this paper we study this interaction using an idealized setup by constraining the flow dynamics to a high-energy barotropic mode and a single low-energy high-baroclinic mode. Our investigation points out that at low Rossby numbers the barotropic flow organizes into large-scale coherent vortices via an inverse energy flux while the baroclinic flow accumulates predominantly in anticyclonic barotropic vortices. In contrast, with increasing Rossby number, the baroclinic flow catalyzes a forward flux of barotropic energy. The barotropic coherent vortices decrease in size and number, with a strong preference for cyclonic coherent vortices at higher Rossby numbers. On partitioning the flow domain into strain-dominant and vorticity-dominant regions based on the barotropic flow, we find that at higher Rossby numbers baroclinic flow accumulates in strain-dominant regions, away from vortex cores. Additionally, a major fraction of the forward energy flux of the flow takes place in strain-dominant regions. Overall, one of the key outcomes of this study is the finding that even a low-energy high-baroclinic flow can deplete and dissipate large-scale coherent structures at O(1) Rossby numbers.

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Madelaine G. Rosevear
,
Bishakhdatta Gayen
, and
Benjamin K. Galton-Fenzi

Abstract

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing mass as a result of increased ocean-driven melting of its fringing ice shelves. Efforts to represent the effects of basal melting in sea level projections are undermined by poor understanding of the turbulent ice shelf–ocean boundary layer (ISOBL), a meters-thick layer of ocean that regulates heat and salt transfer between the ocean and ice. To address this shortcoming, we perform large-eddy simulations of the ISOBL formed by a steady, geostrophic flow beneath horizontal ice. We investigate melting and ISOBL structure and properties over a range of free-stream velocities and ocean temperatures. We find that the melting response to changes in thermal and current forcing is highly nonlinear due to the effects of meltwater on ISOBL turbulence. Three distinct ISOBL regimes emerge depending on the relative strength of current shear and buoyancy forcing: “well-mixed,” “stratified,” or “diffusive-convective.” We present expressions for mixing-layer depth for each regime and show that the transitions between regimes can be predicted with simple nondimensional parameters. We use these results to develop a novel regime diagram for the ISOBL which provides insight into the varied melting responses expected around Antarctica and highlights the need to include stratified and diffusive-convective dynamics in future basal melting parameterizations. We emphasize that melting in the diffusive-convective regime is time dependent and is therefore inherently difficult to parameterize.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to investigate the processes that control ocean-driven melting of Antarctic ice shelves (100–1000-m-thick floating extensions of the Antarctic ice sheet). Currently, these processes are poorly understood due to the difficulty of accessing the ocean beneath ice shelves. Using an ocean model, we determine the melting response to different ocean conditions, including feedbacks whereby cold, fresh meltwater can enhance or suppress turbulent eddies beneath the ice, depending on the ocean state. Our results point the way to improvements in the representation of ocean-driven melting in ocean/climate models, which will allow more accurate predictions of future climate and sea level.

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M. Rouault
and
F. S. Tomety

Abstract

The impact of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the southern African climate is well documented and provides skill in the seasonal forecast of rainfall, but less is known about the impact of ENSO on the Benguela Current west of southern Africa. There is a significant weak correlation between ENSO and the Benguela Current upwelling sea surface temperature (SST) in austral summer. Correlation is positive for southern Benguela and negative for northern Benguela. A significant correlation exists with up to 8 months lag when ENSO leads. The impact of ENSO is due to weaker-than-normal upwelling favorable southeasterly winds during El Niño in southern Benguela, leading to warmer-than-normal coastal SST. In contrast, during La Niña, stronger-than-normal southeasterly winds lead to cooler-than-normal SST. The opposite effect applies to northern Benguela. The coastal wind change is part of an ENSO large-scale basinwide perturbation in the tropical and South Atlantic. However, non-ENSO-related SST variation in the Benguela upwelling can be as important as ENSO-related SST perturbation, and some ENSO events do not lead to the expected changes. Changes in the Benguela upwelling are linked to changes in the intensity of the trade winds associated with a change of the South Atlantic anticyclone intensity and position. In southern Benguela, changes are also associated with variations in midlatitude low pressure systems and associated upwelling unfavorable westerly winds. La Niñas favor the development of Benguela Niños in Angola and Namibia. This study shows the potential for SST seasonal predictability in the Benguela upwelling due to the leading lag correlation between ENSO and the Benguela upwelling SST.

Open access
Gregory Sinnett
,
Steven R. Ramp
,
Yiing J. Yang
,
Ming-Huei Chang
,
Sen Jan
, and
Kristen A. Davis

Abstract

Large-amplitude internal solitary wave (ISW) shoaling, breaking, and run-up was tracked continuously by a dense and rapidly sampling array spanning depths from 500 m to shore near Dongsha Atoll in the South China Sea. Incident ISW amplitudes ranged between 78 and 146 m with propagation speeds between 1.40 and 2.38 m s−1. The ratio between wave amplitude and a critical amplitude A 0 controlled breaking type and was related to wave speed cp and depth. Fissioning ISWs generated larger trailing elevation waves when the thermocline was deep and evolved into onshore propagating bores in depths near 100 m. Collapsing ISWs contained significant mixing and little upslope bore propagation. Bores contained significant onshore near-bottom kinetic and potential energy flux and significant offshore rundown and relaxation phases before and after the bore front passage, respectively. Bores on the shallow forereef drove bottom temperature variation in excess of 10°C and near-bottom cross-shore currents in excess of 0.4 m s−1. Bores decelerated upslope, consistent with upslope two-layer gravity current theory, though run-up extent Xr was offshore of the predicted gravity current location. Background stratification affected the bore run-up, with Xr farther offshore when the Korteweg–de Vries nonlinearity coefficient α was negative. Fronts associated with the shoaling local internal tide, but equal in magnitude to the soliton-generated bores, were observed onshore of 20-m depth.

Open access
Neil Malan
,
Moninya Roughan
,
Geoffrey J. Stanley
,
Ryan Holmes
, and
Junde Li

Abstract

Cross-shelf transport plays an important role in the heat, salt, and nutrient budgets of the continental shelf. In this study, we quantify cross-shelf volume transport and explore its dynamics within a high-resolution (2.5–6 km) regional ocean model of the East Australian Current (EAC) System, a western boundary current with a high level of mesoscale eddy activity. We find that the largest time-mean cross-shelf flows (>4 Sv per 100 km; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) occur inshore of the coherent western boundary current, between 26° and 30°S, while the strongest time-varying flows occur in the EAC southern extension, poleward of 32°S, associated with mesoscale eddies. Using a novel diagnostic equation derived from the momentum budget we show that the cross-shelf transport is dominated by the baroclinic and geostrophic component of the velocities, as the EAC jet is relatively free to flow over the variable shelfbreak topography. However, topographic interactions are also important and act through the bottom pressure torque term as a secondary driver of cross-shelf transport. The importance of topographic interaction also increases in shallower water inshore of the coherent jet. Downstream of separation, cross-shelf transport is more time-varying and associated with the interaction of mesoscale eddies with the shelf. The identification of the change in nature and drivers of cross-shelf transport in eddy versus jet dominated regimes may be applicable to understanding cross-shelf transport dynamics in other boundary current systems.

Significance Statement

Cross-shelf transport, i.e., the movement of water from the open ocean on or off the continental shelf, is not reported often as it is difficult to measure and model. We demonstrate a simple but effective method to do this and, using an ocean model, apply it to the East Australian Current System and show what drives it. The results show two distinct regimes, which differ depending on which part of the current system you are in. Our results help to place observations of cross-shelf transport in better context and provide a framework within which to consider the transport of other things such as heat and carbon from the open ocean to the continental shelf.

Open access
Yuval Yevnin
and
Yaron Toledo

Abstract

The paper presents a combined numerical–deep learning (DL) approach for improving wind and wave forecasting. First, a DL model is trained to improve wind velocity forecasts by using past reanalysis data. The improved wind forecasts are used as forcing in a numerical wave forecasting model. This novel approach, used to combine physics-based and data-driven models, was tested over the Mediterranean. The correction to the wind forecast resulted in ∼10% RMSE improvement in both wind velocity and wave height over reanalysis data. This significant improvement is even more substantial at the Aegean Sea when Etesian winds are dominant, improving wave height forecasts by over 35%. The additional computational costs of the DL model are negligible compared to the costs of either the atmospheric or wave numerical model by itself. This work has the potential to greatly improve the wind and wave forecasting models used nowadays by tailoring models to localized seasonal conditions, at negligible additional computational costs.

Significance Statement

Wind and wave forecasting models solve a set of complicated physical equations. Improving forecasting accuracy is usually achieved by using a higher-resolution, empirical coefficients calibration or better physical formulations. However, measurements are rarely used directly to achieve better forecasts, as their assimilation can prove difficult. The presented work bridges this gap by using a data-driven deep learning model to improve wind forecasting accuracy, and the resulting wave forecasting. Testing over the Mediterranean Sea resulted in ∼10% RMSE improvement. Inspecting the Aegean Sea when the Etesian wind is dominant shows an outstanding 35% improvement. This approach has the potential to improve the operational atmospheric and wave forecasting models used nowadays by tailoring models to localized seasonal conditions, at negligible computational costs.

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Lei Liu
and
Huijie Xue

Abstract

Observational surface data are utilized to reconstruct the subsurface density and geostrophic velocity fields via the “interior + surface quasigeostrophic” (isQG) method in a subdomain of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). The input variables include the satellite-derived sea surface height (SSH), satellite-derived sea surface temperature (SST), satellite-derived or Argo-based sea surface salinity (SSS), and a monthly estimate of the stratification. The density reconstruction is assessed against a newly released high-resolution in situ dataset that is collected by a southern elephant seal. The results show that the observed mesoscale structures are reasonably reconstructed. In the Argo-SSS-based experiment, pattern correlations between the reconstructed and observed density mostly exceed 0.8 in the upper 300 m. Uncertainties in the SSS products notably influence the isQG performance, and the Argo-SSS-based experiment yields better density reconstruction than the satellite-SSS-based one. Through the two-dimensional (2D) omega equation, we further employ the isQG reconstructions to diagnose the upper-ocean vertical velocities (denoted w isQG2D), which are then compared against the seal-data-based 2D diagnosis of w seal. Notable discrepancies are found between w isQG2D and w seal, primarily because the density reconstruction does not capture the seal-observed smaller-scale signals. Within several subtransects, the Argo-SSS-based w isQG2D reasonably reproduce the spatial structures of w seal, but present smaller magnitude. We also apply the isQG reconstructions to the 3D omega equation, and the 3D diagnosis of w isQG3D is very different from w isQG2D, indicating the limitations of the 2D diagnostic equation. With reduced uncertainties in satellite-derived products in the future, we expect the isQG framework to achieve better subsurface estimations.

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Marco Larrañaga
,
Lionel Renault
, and
Julien Jouanno

Abstract

The surface oceanic current feedback (CFB) to the atmosphere has been shown to correct long-lasting biases in the representation of ocean dynamics by providing an unambiguous energy sink mechanism. However, its effects on the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) oceanic circulation are not known. Here, twin ocean–atmosphere eddy-rich coupled simulations, with and without CFB, are performed for the period 1993–2016 over the GoM to assess to which extent CFB modulates the GoM dynamics. CFB, through the eddy killing mechanism and the associated transfer of momentum from mesoscale currents to the atmosphere, damps the mesoscale activity by roughly 20% and alters eddy statistics. We furthermore show that the Loop Current (LC) extensions can be classified into three categories: a retracted LC, a canonical LC, and an elongated LC. CFB, by damping the mesoscale activity, enhance the occurrence of the elongated category (by about 7%). Finally, by increasing the LC extension, CFB plays a key role in determining LC eddy separations and statistics. Taking into account CFB improves the representation of the GoM dynamics, and it should be taken into account in ocean models.

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Xiaoting Yang
and
Eli Tziperman

Abstract

The middepth ocean temperature profile was found by Munk in 1966 to agree with an exponential profile and shown to be consistent with a vertical advective–diffusive balance. However, tracer release experiments show that vertical diffusivity in the middepth ocean is an order of magnitude too small to explain the observed 1-km exponential scale. Alternative mechanisms suggested that nearly all middepth water upwells adiabatically in the Southern Ocean (SO). In this picture, SO eddies and wind set SO isopycnal slopes and therefore determine a nonvanishing middepth interior stratification even in the adiabatic limit. The effect of SO eddies on SO isopycnal slopes can be understood via either a marginal criticality condition or a near-vanishing SO residual deep overturning condition in the adiabatic limit. We examine the interplay between SO dynamics and interior mixing in setting the exponential profiles of σ 2 and ∂ zσ 2. We use eddy-permitting numerical simulations, in which we artificially change the diapycnal mixing only away from the SO. We find that SO isopycnal slopes change in response to changes in the interior diapycnal mixing even when the wind forcing is constant, consistent with previous studies (that did not address these near-exponential profiles). However, in the limit of small interior mixing, the interior ∂ zσ 2 profile is not exponential, suggesting that SO processes alone, in an adiabatic limit, do not lead to the observed near-exponential structures of such profiles. The results suggest that while SO wind and eddies contribute to the nonvanishing middepth interior stratification, the exponential shape of the ∂ zσ 2 profiles must also involve interior diapycnal mixing.

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Jemima Rama
,
Callum J. Shakespeare
, and
Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

Wind-generated near-inertial internal waves (NIWs) are triggered in the mixed layer and propagate down into the ocean interior. Observational and numerical studies have shown the effects of background vorticity and high shear on propagating NIWs. However, the impacts of the background mean flow on NIWs as a function of the waves’ horizontal wavelength have yet to be fully investigated. Here, two distinct cases are analyzed, namely, the propagation of wind-generated, large-scale NIWs in negative vorticity and the behavior of small-scale NIWs in high shear. The propagation and energetics of the respective NIWs are investigated using a realistic eddy-resolving numerical simulation of the Kuroshio region. The large-scale NIWs display a rapid vertical propagation to depth in negative vorticity areas, while the small-scale NIWs are confined to shallower depths in high-shear regions. Furthermore, the dominant energy sources and sinks of near-inertial energy are estimated as the respective NIWs propagate into the ocean’s interior. The qualitative analysis of NIW energetics reveals that the wind triggers the generation of both the large-scale and small-scale NIWs, but the waves experience further amplification as they draw energy from the background mean flow upon propagation in negative vorticity and high-shear regions, respectively. In addition, the study demonstrates that small-scale NIWs can be induced independently by wind fluctuations and do not necessarily rely on straining nor refraction of large-scale NIWs by mesoscale motions.

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