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Sydney Sroka and Kerry Emanuel

Abstract

The intensity of tropical cyclones is sensitive to the air–sea fluxes of enthalpy and momentum. Sea spray plays a critical role in mediating enthalpy and momentum fluxes over the ocean’s surface at high wind speeds, and parameterizing the influence of sea spray is a crucial component of any air–sea interaction scheme used for the high wind regime where sea spray is ubiquitous. Many studies have proposed parameterizations of air–sea flux that incorporate the microphysics of sea spray evaporation and the mechanics of sea spray stress. Unfortunately, there is not yet a consensus on which parameterization best represents air–sea exchange in tropical cyclones, and the different proposed parameterizations can yield substantially different tropical cyclone intensities. This paper seeks to review the developments in parameterizations of the sea spray–mediated enthalpy and momentum fluxes for the high wind speed regime and to synthesize key findings that are common across many investigations.

Open access
Sean R. Haney, Alexandra J. Simpson, Jacqueline M. McSweeney, Amy F. Waterhouse, Merrick C. Haller, James A. Lerczak, John A. Barth, Luc Lenain, André Palóczy, Kate Adams, and Jennifer A. MacKinnon

Abstract

The ocean is home to many different submesoscale phenomena, including internal waves, fronts, and gravity currents. Each of these processes entail complex nonlinear dynamics, even in isolation. Here we present shipboard, moored, and remote observations of a submesoscale gravity current front created by a shoaling internal tidal bore in the coastal ocean. The internal bore is observed to flatten as it shoals, leaving behind a gravity current front that propagates significantly slower than the bore. We posit that the generation and separation of the front from the bore is related to particular stratification ahead of the bore, which allows the bore to reach the maximum possible internal wave speed. After the front is calved from the bore, it is observed to propagate as a gravity current for ≈4 hours, with associated elevated turbulent dissipation rates. A strong cross-shore gradient of along-shore velocity creates enhanced vertical vorticity (Rossby number ≈ 40) that remains locked with the front. Lateral shear instabilities develop along the front and may hasten its demise.

Open access
Zhiling Liao, Shaowu Li, Ye Liu, and Qingping Zou

Abstract

The theoretical model for group-forced infragravity (IG) waves in shallow water is not well established for nonbreaking conditions. In the present study, analytical solutions of the group-forced IG waves at O(β 1) (β 1 = h x/(Δkh), h x = bottom slope, Δk = group wavenumber, h = depth) in intermediate water and at O(β11) in shallow water are derived separately. In case of off-resonance [β 1 μ −1 = O(β 1), where μ=1cg2/(gh) is the resonant departure parameter, c g = group speed] in intermediate water, additional IG waves in quadrature with the wave group forcing (hereinafter, the nonequilibrium response or component) are induced at O(β 1) relative to the equilibrium bound IG wave solution of in phase with the wave group. The present theory indicates that the nonequilibrium response is mainly attributed to the spatial variation of the equilibrium bound IG wave amplitude instead of group-forcing. In case of near-resonance [β 1 μ −1 = O(1)] in shallow water; however, both the equilibrium and nonequilibrium components are ~O(β11) at the leading order. Based on the nearly-resonant solution, the shallow water limit of the local shoaling rate of bound IG waves over a plane sloping beach is derived to be ~h −1 for the first time. The theoretical predictions compare favorably with the laboratory experiment by and the present numerical model results generated using SWASH. Based on the proposed solution, the group-forced IG waves over a symmetric shoal are investigated. In case of off-resonance, the solution predicts a roughly symmetric reversible spatial evolution of the IG wave amplitude, while in cases of near to full resonance the IG wave is significantly amplified over the shoal with asymmetric irreversible spatial evolution.

Open access
Eric Kunze, John B. Mickett, and James B. Girton

Abstract

Destratification and restratification of a ~50-m-thick surface boundary layer in the North Pacific Subtropical Front are examined during 24–31 March 2017 in the wake of a storm using a ~5-km array of 23 chi-augmented EM-APEX profiling floats (u, υ, T, S, χ T), as well as towyo and ADCP ship surveys, shipboard air-sea surface fluxes, and parameterized shortwave penetrative radiation. During the first four days, nocturnal destabilizing buoyancy fluxes mixed the surface layer over almost its full depth every night followed by restratification to N ~ 2 × 10−3 rad s−1 during daylight. Starting on 28 March, nocturnal destabilizing buoyancy fluxes weakened because weakening winds reduced latent heat flux. Shallow mixing and stratified transition layers formed above ~20-m depth. A remnant layer in the lower part of the surface layer was insulated from destabilizing surface forcing. Penetrative radiation, turbulent buoyancy fluxes, and horizontal buoyancy advection all contribute to its restratification, closing the budget to within measurement uncertainties. Buoyancy advective restratification (slumping) plays a minor role. Before 28 March, measured advective restratification (uzbx+υzby)dt is confined to daytime; is often destratifying; and is much stronger than predictions of geostrophic adjustment, mixed-layer eddy instability, and Ekman buoyancy flux because of storm-forced inertial shear. Starting on 28 March, while small, the subinertial envelope of measured buoyancy advective restratification in the remnant layer proceeds as predicted by mixed-layer eddy parameterizations.

Open access
Free access
Luc Lenain and Nick Pizzo

Abstract

Internal waves are a regular feature of the open-ocean and coastal waters. As a train of internal waves propagates, their surface induced currents modulate the surface waves, generating a characteristic rough- and smooth-banded structure. While the surface expression of these internal waves is well known and has been observed from a variety of remote sensing instruments, direct quantitative observations of the directional properties of the surface gravity wave field modulated by an internal wave remain sparse. In this work, we report on a comprehensive field campaign conducted off the coast of Point Sal, California, in September 2017. Using a unique combination of airborne remote sensing observations, along with in situ surface and subsurface measurements, we investigate and quantify the interaction between surface gravity and internal wave processes. We find that surface waves are significantly modulated by the currents induced by the internal waves. Through novel observations of ocean topography, we characterize the rapid modification of the directional and spectral properties of surface waves over very short spatial scales [O(100) m or less]. Over a range of wavelengths (3–9-m waves), geometrical optics and wave action conservation predictions show good agreement with the observed wavenumber spectra in smooth and rough regions of the modulated surface waves. If a parameterization of wave action source terms is used, good agreement is found over a larger range of wavenumbers, down to 4 rad m−1. These results elucidate properties of surface waves interacting with a submesoscale ocean current and should provide insight into more general interactions between surface waves and the fine-scale structure of the upper ocean.

Open access
Dhruv Balwada, Qiyu Xiao, Shafer Smith, Ryan Abernathey, and Alison R. Gray

Abstract

It has been hypothesized that submesoscale flows play an important role in the vertical transport of climatically important tracers, due to their strong associated vertical velocities. However, the multiscale, nonlinear, and Lagrangian nature of transport makes it challenging to attribute proportions of the tracer fluxes to certain processes, scales, regions, or features. Here we show that criteria based on the surface vorticity and strain joint probability distribution function (JPDF) effectively decompose the surface velocity field into distinguishable flow regions, and different flow features, like fronts or eddies, are contained in different flow regions. The JPDF has a distinct shape and approximately parses the flow into different scales, as stronger velocity gradients are usually associated with smaller scales. Conditioning the vertical tracer transport on the vorticity–strain JPDF can therefore help to attribute the transport to different types of flows and scales. Applied to a set of idealized Antarctic Circumpolar Current simulations that vary only in horizontal resolution, this diagnostic approach demonstrates that small-scale strain-dominated regions that are generally associated with submesoscale fronts, despite their minuscule spatial footprint, play an outsized role in exchanging tracers across the mixed layer base and are an important contributor to the large-scale tracer budgets. Resolving these flows not only adds extra flux at the small scales, but also enhances the flux due to the larger-scale flows.

Open access
Xiaodong Wu, Falk Feddersen, and Sarah N. Giddings

Abstract

Rip currents are generated by surfzone wave breaking and are ejected offshore, inducing inner-shelf flow spatial variability (eddies). However, surfzone effects on the inner-shelf flow spatial variability have not been studied in realistic models that include both shelf and surfzone processes. Here, these effects are diagnosed with two nearly identical twin realistic simulations of the San Diego Bight over summer to fall, where one simulation includes surface gravity waves (WW) and the other does not (NW). The simulations include tides, weak to moderate winds, internal waves, and submesoscale processes and have surfzone width L sz of 96 (±41) m (≈1 m significant wave height). Flow spatial variability metrics, alongshore root-mean-square vorticity, divergence, and eddy cross-shore velocity are analyzed in an L sz normalized cross-shore coordinate. At the surface, the metrics are consistently (>70%) elevated in the WW run relative to NW out to 5L sz offshore. At 4L sz offshore, WW metrics are enhanced over the entire water column. In a fixed coordinate appropriate for eddy transport, the eddy cross-shore velocity squared correlation between WW and NW runs is <0.5 out to 1.2 km offshore or 12 time-averaged L sz. The results indicate that the eddy tracer (e.g., larvae) transport and dispersion across the inner shelf will be significantly different in the WW and NW runs. The WW model neglects specific surfzone vorticity generation mechanisms. Thus, these inner-shelf impacts are likely underestimated. In other regions with larger waves, impacts will extend farther offshore.

Open access
Free access
Xiaolin Bai, Kevin G. Lamb, Jianyu Hu, and Zhiyu Liu

Abstract

Internal solitary-like waves (ISWs) evolve considerably when passing through a critical point separating the deep water where ISWs are waves of depression and shallower water where they are waves of elevation. The location of the critical point is determined by the background current and stratification. In this study, we investigate the influence of tidal currents on the cross-shelf movement of the critical point and elucidate the underlying processes via fully nonlinear numerical simulations. Our simulations reveal phase-locked tidal variations of the critical point, which are mainly attributed to stratification fluctuations that are modulated by the combined effects of cross-shelf barotropic tidal currents and locally generated baroclinic tides. The barotropic tidal currents drive isopycnal displacements as they flow over the slope, and as this occurs baroclinic tides are generated, modulating the stratification and inducing sheared currents. This results in a cross-shelf movement of the critical point, which moves onshore (offshore) when the pycnocline is elevated (depressed) by the flood (ebb) tide. Our idealized numerical simulations for the study region in the South China Sea suggest that the cross-shelf movement of the critical point reaches to O(10) km within a tidal cycle. This distance depends on the strength of tidal currents, stratification, and bathymetry. Because of tidal currents, ISWs of depression may undergo a complex evolution even in a stratification with a shallow pycnocline. For the stratification with a deep pycnocline, the critical point may be at a location deep enough so that its tidal movement becomes insignificant.

Open access