Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 8,074 items for :

  • Journal of Physical Oceanography x
  • Refine by Access: Content accessible to me x
Clear All
Amy F. Waterhouse, Tyler Hennon, Eric Kunze, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, Matthew H. Alford, Robert Pinkel, Harper Simmons, Caitlin B. Whalen, Elizabeth C. Fine, Jody Klymak, and Julia M. Hummon

Abstract

Internal waves are predominantly generated by winds, tide/topography interactions and balanced flow/topography interactions. Observations of vertical shear of horizontal velocity (uz, vz) from LADCP profiles conducted during GO-SHIP hydrographic surveys, as well as vessel-mounted sonars, are used to interpret these signals. Vertical directionality of intermediate-wavenumber [λz ~ 𝒪(100 m)] internal waves is inferred in this study from rotary-with-depth shears. Total shear variance and vertical asymmetry ratio (Ω), i.e. the normalized difference between downward- and upward-propagating intermediate wavenumber shear variance, where Ω > 0 (< 0) indicates excess downgoing (upgoing) shear variance, are calculated for three depth ranges: 200-600 m, 600 m to 1000 mab (meters above bottom), and below 1000 mab. Globally, downgoing (clockwise-with-depth in the northern hemisphere) exceeds upgoing (counterclockwise-with-depth in the northern hemisphere) shear variance by 30% in the upper 600 m of the water column (corresponding to the globally averaged asymmetry ratio of Ω¯ = 0.13), with a near-equal distribution below 600-m depth ( Ω¯ ~ 0). Downgoing shear variance in the upper water column dominates at all latitudes. There is no statistically significant correlation between the global distribution of Ω and internal wave generation, pointing to an important role for processes that re-distribute energy within the internal wave continuum on wavelengths of 𝒪(100 m).

Open access
Gabin H. Urbancic, Kevin G. Lamb, Ilker Fer, and Laurie Padman

Abstract

The propagation of internal waves (IWs) of tidal frequency is inhibited poleward of the critical latitude, where the tidal frequency is equal to the Coriolis frequency (f). These sub-inertial IWs may propagate in the presence of background vorticity which can reduce rotational effects. Additionally, for strong tidal currents, the isopycnal displacements may evolve into internal solitary waves (ISWs). In this study, wave generation by the sub-inertial K1 and M2 tides over the Yermak Plateau (YP) is modelled to understand the linear response and the conditions necessary for the generation of ISWs. The YP stretches out into Fram Strait, a gateway into the Arctic Ocean for warm Atlantic-origin waters. We consider the K1 tide for a wide range of tidal amplitudes to understand the IW generation for different forcing. For weak tidal currents, the baroclinic response is predominantly at the second harmonic due to critical slopes. For sufficiently strong diurnal currents, ISWs are generated and their generation is not sensitive to the range of f and stratifications considered. The M2 tide is sub-inertial yet the response shows propagating IW beams with frequency just over f. We discuss the propagation of these waves and the influence of variations of f, as a proxy for variations in the background vorticity, on the energy conversion to IWs. An improved understanding of tidal dynamics and IW generation at high latitudes is needed to quantify the magnitude and distribution of turbulent mixing, and its consequences for the changes in ocean circulation, heat content, and sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean.

Open access
Fan Xu, Zhao Jing, Peiran Yang, and Shenghui Zhou

Abstract

Geostrophic stress caused by strong horizontal density gradient embedded in the surface boundary layer plays an important role in generating vertical motion and associated tracer transport. However, dependence of this frictionally driven vertical velocity on the Ekman number (Ek), a key dimensionless parameter for frictional flows in a rotating reference frame, has not been systematically analyzed, especially for a finite Ek. In this study, we theoretically demonstrate that the geostrophic stress always induces an ageostrophic stress acting to offset itself, and such an offsetting effect becomes more evident with increasing Ek. When Ek approaches unity or larger, vertical motion driven by geostrophic stress is much weaker than that derived by Garrett and Loder (GL81) who neglect effects of ageostrophic stress and predict a vertical velocity magnitude scaled with curl of geostrophic stress. Although the cancellation tendency between geostrophic and ageostrophic stress is universal, its underlying dynamics depends on vertical structures of turbulent viscosity and geostrophic flows.

A realistic simulation in the winter Kuroshio extension is conducted to validate the theoretical results and examine which regime, a small vs. finite Ek, is more relevant in this region. It is found that the characteristic vertical scale involved in the definition of Ek is primarily determined by the vertical structure of turbulent viscosity and evidently smaller than that of geostrophic flow. The value of Ek in the winter Kuroshio extension is generally larger than unity. Correspondingly, the GL81 model results in severe overestimation of the geostrophic stress-driven vertical velocity and tracer transport.

Open access
B. Dzwonkowski, S. Fournier, G. Lockridge, J. Coogan, Z. Liu, and K. Park

Abstract

Prediction of rapid intensification in tropical cyclones prior to landfall is a major societal issue. While air-sea interactions are clearly linked to storm intensity, the connections between the underlying thermal conditions over continental shelves and rapid intensification are limited. Here, an exceptional set of in-situ and satellite data are used to identify spatial heterogeneity in sea surface temperatures across the inner core of Hurricane Sally (2020), a storm that rapidly intensified over the shelf. A leftward shift in the region of maximum cooling was observed as the hurricane transited from the open gulf to the shelf. This shift was generated, in part, by the surface heat flux in conjunction with the along and across-shelf transport of heat from storm-generated coastal circulation. The spatial differences in the sea surface temperatures were large enough to potentially influence rapid intensification processes suggesting that coastal thermal features need to be accounted for to improve storm forecasting as well as to better understand how climate change will modify interactions between tropical cyclones and the coastal ocean.

Open access
Lisa Maillard, Julien Boucharel, and Lionel Renault

Abstract

Tropical instability waves (TIWs) are oceanic features propagating westward along the northern front of the Pacific cold tongue. Observational and modeling studies suggest that TIWs may have a large impact on the eastern tropical Pacific background state from seasonal to interannual time scales through heat advection and mixing. However, observations are coarse or limited to surface data, and modeling studies are often based on the comparison of low- versus high-resolution simulations. In this study, we perform a set of regional high-resolution ocean simulations (CROCO 1/12°) in which we strongly damp (NOTIWs-RUN) or not (TIWs-RUN) TIW propagation, by nudging meridional current velocities in the TIW region toward their monthly climatological values. This approach, while effectively removing TIW mesoscale activity, does not alter the model internal physics in particular related to the equatorial Kelvin wave dynamics. The impact of TIWs on the oceanic mean state is then assessed by comparing the two simulations. While the well-known direct effect of TIW heat advection is to weaken the meridional temperature gradient by warming up the cold tongue (0.34°C month−1), the rectified effect of TIWs onto the mean state attenuates this direct effect by cooling down the cold tongue (−0.10°C month−1). This rectified effect occurs through the TIW-induced deepening and weakening of the Equatorial Undercurrent, which subsequently modulates the mean zonal advection and counterbalances the TIWs’ direct effect. This approach allows quantifying the rectified effect of TIWs without degrading the model horizontal resolution and may lead to a better characterization of the eastern tropical Pacific mean state and to the development of TIW parameterizations in Earth system models.

Significance Statement

Tropical instability waves (TIWs), meandering features at the surface of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, have long been recognized as a key component of the climate system that can even impact marine ecosystems. Yet, they are still hardly simulated in coupled global climate models. Here, we introduce a new framework to isolate and quantify their complex influence on the tropical Pacific background climate. This approach allows revealing a so far overlooked effect of TIWs on the mean circulation and heat transport in this region that should be accounted for in the next generation of global coupled climate models through parameterization or increased resolution.

Open access
Qi Li, Zhaohui Chen, Shoude Guan, Haiyuan Yang, Zhao Jing, Yongzheng Liu, Bingrong Sun, and Lixin Wu

Abstract

Shipboard observations of upper-ocean current, temperature–salinity, and turbulent dissipation rate were used to study near-inertial waves (NIWs) and turbulent diapycnal mixing in a cold-core eddy (CE) and warm-core eddy (WE) in the Kuroshio Extension (KE) region. The two eddies shed from the KE were energetic, with the maximum velocity exceeding 1 m s−1 and relative vorticity magnitude as high as 0.6f. The mode regression method was proposed to extract NIWs from the shipboard ADCP velocities. The NIW amplitudes were 0.15 and 0.3 m s−1 in the CE and WE, respectively, and their constant phase lines were nearly slanted along the heaving isopycnals. In the WE, the NIWs were trapped in the negative vorticity core and amplified at the eddy base (at 350–650 m), which was consistent with the “inertial chimney” effect documented in existing literature. Outstanding NIWs in the background wavefield were also observed inside the positive vorticity core of the CE, despite their lower strength and shallower residence (above 350 m) compared to the counterparts in the WE. Particularly, the near-inertial kinetic energy efficiently propagated downward and amplified below the surface layer in both eddies, leading to an elevated turbulent dissipation rate of up to 10−7 W kg−1. In addition, bidirectional energy exchanges between the NIWs and mesoscale balanced flow occurred during NIWs’ downward propagation. The present study provides observational evidence for the enhanced downward NIW propagation by mesoscale eddies, which has significant implications for parameterizing the wind-driven diapycnal mixing in the eddying ocean.

Significance Statement

We provide observational evidence for the downward propagation of near-inertial waves enhanced by mesoscale eddies. This is significant because the down-taking of wind energy by the near-inertial waves is an important energy source for turbulent mixing in the interior ocean, which is essential to the shaping of ocean circulation and climate. The anticyclonic eddies are widely regarded as a conduit for the downward near-inertial energy propagation, while the cyclonic eddies activity influencing the near-inertial waves propagation lacks clear cognition. In this study, enhanced near-inertial waves and turbulent dissipation were observed inside both cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies in the Kuroshio Extension region, which has significant implications for improving the parameterization of turbulent mixing in ocean circulation and climate models.

Open access
Jacob M. Steinberg, Sylvia T. Cole, Kyla Drushka, and Ryan P. Abernathey

Abstract

Oceanic mesoscale motions including eddies, meanders, fronts, and filaments comprise a dominant fraction of oceanic kinetic energy and contribute to the redistribution of tracers in the ocean such as heat, salt, and nutrients. This reservoir of mesoscale energy is regulated by the conversion of potential energy and transfers of kinetic energy across spatial scales. Whether and under what circumstances mesoscale turbulence precipitates forward or inverse cascades, and the rates of these cascades, remain difficult to directly observe and quantify despite their impacts on physical and biological processes. Here we use global observations to investigate the seasonality of surface kinetic energy and upper-ocean potential energy. We apply spatial filters to along-track satellite measurements of sea surface height to diagnose surface eddy kinetic energy across 60–300-km scales. A geographic and scale-dependent seasonal cycle appears throughout much of the midlatitudes, with eddy kinetic energy at scales less than 60 km peaking 1–4 months before that at 60–300-km scales. Spatial patterns in this lag align with geographic regions where an Argo-derived estimate of the conversion of potential to kinetic energy is seasonally varying. In midlatitudes, the conversion rate peaks 0–2 months prior to kinetic energy at scales less than 60 km. The consistent geographic patterns between the seasonality of potential energy conversion and kinetic energy across spatial scale provide observational evidence for the inverse cascade and demonstrate that some component of it is seasonally modulated. Implications for mesoscale parameterizations and numerical modeling are discussed.

Significance Statement

This study investigates the seasonality of upper-ocean potential and kinetic energy in the context of an inverse cascade, consisting of energy transfers to and through the mesoscale. Observations show a scale-dependent cycle in kinetic energy that coincides with temporal variability in mixed layer potential energy and progresses seasonally from smaller to larger scales. This pattern appears dominant over large regions of the ocean. Results are relevant to ocean and climate models, where a large fraction of ocean energy is often parameterized. A customizable code repository and dataset are provided to enable comparisons of model-based resolved and unresolved kinetic energy to observational equivalents. Implications result for a range of processes including mixed layer stratification and vertical structure of ocean currents.

Open access
Saulo M. Soares, Sarah T. Gille, Teresa K. Chereskin, Eric Firing, Jules Hummon, and Cesar B. Rocha

Abstract

Kinetic energy associated with inertia–gravity waves (IGWs) and other ageostrophic phenomena often overwhelms kinetic energy due to geostrophic motions for wavelengths on the order of tens of kilometers. Understanding the dependencies of the wavelength at which balanced (geostrophic) variability ceases to be larger than unbalanced variability is important for interpreting high-resolution altimetric data. This wavelength has been termed the transition scale. This study uses acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) data along with auxiliary observations and a numerical model to investigate the transition scale in the eastern tropical Pacific and the mechanisms responsible for its regional and seasonal variations. One-dimensional kinetic energy wavenumber spectra are separated into rotational and divergent components, and subsequently into vortex and wave components. The divergent motions, most likely predominantly IGWs, account for most of the energy at wavelengths less than 100 km. The observed regional and seasonal patterns in the transition scale are consistent with those from a high-resolution global simulation. Observations, however, show weaker seasonality, with only modest wintertime increases in vortex energy. The ADCP-inferred IGW wavenumber spectra suggest that waves with near-inertial frequency dominate the unbalanced variability, while in model output, internal tides strongly influence the wavenumber spectrum. The ADCP-derived transition scales from the eastern tropical Pacific are typically in the 100–200-km range.

Open access
Ajitha Cyriac, Helen E. Phillips, Nathaniel L. Bindoff, and Kurt Polzin

Abstract

This study presents novel observational estimates of turbulent dissipation and mixing in a standing meander between the Southeast Indian Ridge and the Macquarie Ridge in the Southern Ocean. By applying a finescale parameterization on the temperature, salinity, and velocity profiles collected from Electromagnetic Autonomous Profiling Explorer (EM-APEX) floats in the upper 1600 m, we estimated the intensity and spatial distribution of dissipation rate and diapycnal mixing along the float tracks and investigated the sources. The indirect estimates indicate strong spatial and temporal variability of turbulent mixing varying from O(10−6) to O(10−3) m2 s−1 in the upper 1600 m. Elevated turbulent mixing is mostly associated with the Subantarctic Front (SAF) and mesoscale eddies. In the upper 500 m, enhanced mixing is associated with downward-propagating wind-generated near-inertial waves as well as the interaction between cyclonic eddies and upward-propagating internal waves. In the study region, the local topography does not play a role in turbulent mixing in the upper part of the water column, which has similar values in profiles over rough and smooth topography. However, both remotely generated internal tides and lee waves could contribute to the upward-propagating energy. Our results point strongly to the generation of turbulent mixing through the interaction of internal waves and the intense mesoscale eddy field.

Open access
Geoffrey J. Stanley and David P. Marshall

Abstract

Downstream of Drake Passage, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) veers abruptly northward along the continental slope of South America. This spins down the ACC, akin to the western boundary currents of ocean gyres. During this northward excursion, the mean potential vorticity (PV) increases dramatically (decreases in magnitude) by up to a factor of 2 along mean geostrophic streamlines on middepth buoyancy surfaces. This increase is driven by drag near the continental slope, or by breaking eddies further offshore, and is balanced by a remarkably steady, eddy-driven decrease of mean PV along these northern circumpolar streamlines in the open ocean. We show how two related eddy processes that are fundamental to ACC dynamics—poleward buoyancy fluxes and downward fluxes of eastward momentum—are also concomitant with materially forcing PV to increase on the northern flank of a jet at middepth, and decrease on the southern flank. For eddies to drive the required mean PV decrease along northern streamlines, the ACC merges with the subtropical gyres to the north, so these streamlines inhabit the southern flanks of the combined ACC–gyre jets. We support these ideas by analyzing the time-mean PV and its budget along time-mean geostrophic streamlines in the Southern Ocean State Estimate. Our averaging formalism is Eulerian, to match the model’s numerics. The thickness-weighted average is preferable, but its PV budget cannot be balanced using Eulerian 5-day averaged diagnostics, primarily because the z-level buoyancy and continuity equations’ delicate balances are destroyed upon transformation into the buoyancy-coordinate thickness equation.

Significance Statement

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is the world’s largest ocean current and a key controller of Earth’s climate. As the westerly winds that drive this current shift poleward under global warming, it is vital to know whether the current will follow. To begin addressing this, we study the current’s fundamental dynamics, and constraints, under present-day conditions. By analyzing angular momentum and stratification together, we show that the current is weakened near boundaries and strengthened by eddies elsewhere. The strengthening effects of eddies are isolated to the current by merging the current with oceanic gyres to the north. This gives a new perspective on why the current travels so far northward alongside South America, and may provide dynamical constraints on future changes.

Open access