Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 7,076 items for :

  • Journal of Physical Oceanography x
  • Refine by Access: Content accessible to me x
Clear All
Maya I. Jakes
,
Helen E. Phillips
,
Annie Foppert
,
Ajitha Cyriac
,
Nathaniel L. Bindoff
,
Stephen R. Rintoul
, and
Andrew F. Thompson

Abstract

Eddy stirring at mesoscale oceanic fronts generates finescale filaments, visible in submesoscale-resolving model simulations and high-resolution satellite images of sea surface temperature, ocean color, and sea ice. Submesoscale filaments have widths of O(1–10) km and evolve on time scales of hours to days, making them extremely challenging to observe. Despite their relatively small scale, submesoscale processes play a key role in the climate system by providing a route to dissipation; altering the stratification of the ocean interior; and generating strong vertical velocities that exchange heat, carbon, nutrients, and oxygen between the mixed layer and the ocean interior. We present a unique set of in situ and satellite observations in a standing meander region of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) that supports the theory of cold filamentary intensification—revealing enhanced vertical velocities and evidence of subduction and ventilation associated with finescale cold filaments. We show that these processes are not confined to the mixed layer; EM-APEX floats reveal enhanced downward velocities (>100 m day−1) and evidence of ageostrophic motion extending as deep as 1600 dbar, associated with a ∼20-km-wide cold filament. A finer-scale (∼5 km wide) cold filament crossed by a towed Triaxus is associated with anomalous chlorophyll and oxygen values extending at least 100–200 dbar below the base of the mixed layer, implying recent subduction and ventilation. Energetic standing meanders within the weakly stratified ACC provide an environment conductive to the generation of finescale filaments that can transport water mass properties across mesoscale fronts and deep into the ocean interior.

Open access
Takaya Uchida
,
Quentin Jamet
,
William K. Dewar
,
Bruno Deremble
,
Andrew C. Poje
, and
Luolin Sun

Abstract

We examine the ocean energy cycle where the eddies are defined about the ensemble mean of a partially air–sea coupled, eddy-rich ensemble simulation of the North Atlantic. The decomposition about the ensemble mean leads to a parameter-free definition of eddies, which is interpreted as the expression of oceanic chaos. Using the ensemble framework, we define the reservoirs of mean and eddy kinetic energy (MKE and EKE, respectively) and mean total dynamic enthalpy (MTDE). We opt for the usage of dynamic enthalpy (DE) as a proxy for potential energy due to its dynamically consistent relation to hydrostatic pressure in Boussinesq fluids and nonreliance on any reference stratification. The curious result that emerges is that the potential energy reservoir cannot be decomposed into its mean and eddy components, and the eddy flux of DE can be absorbed into the EKE budget as pressure work. We find from the energy cycle that while baroclinic instability, associated with a positive vertical eddy buoyancy flux, tends to peak around February, EKE takes its maximum around September in the wind-driven gyre. Interestingly, the energy input from MKE to EKE, a process sometimes associated with barotropic processes, becomes larger than the vertical eddy buoyancy flux during the summer and autumn. Our results question the common notion that the inverse energy cascade of wintertime EKE energized by baroclinic instability within the mixed layer is solely responsible for the summer-to-autumn peak in EKE and suggest that both the eddy transport of DE and transfer of energy from MKE to EKE contribute to the seasonal EKE maxima.

Significance Statement

The Earth system, including the ocean, is chaotic. Namely, the state to be realized is highly sensitive to minute perturbations, a phenomenon commonly known as the “butterfly effect.” Here, we run a sweep of ocean simulations that allow us to disentangle the oceanic expression of chaos from the oceanic response to the atmosphere. We investigate the energy pathways between the two in a physically consistent manner in the North Atlantic region. Our approach can be extended to robustly examine the temporal change of oceanic energy and heat distribution under a warming climate.

Open access
Hieu T. Pham
,
Sutanu Sarkar
,
William D. Smyth
,
James N. Moum
, and
Sally J. Warner

Abstract

Observations in the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrents (EUC) show that the nighttime deep-cycle turbulence (DCT) in the marginal-instability (MI) layer of the EUC exhibits seasonal variability that can modulate heat transport and sea surface temperature. Large-eddy simulations (LES), spanning a wide range of control parameters, are performed to identify the key processes that influence the turbulent heat flux at multiple time scales ranging from turbulent (minutes to hours) to daily to seasonal. The control parameters include wind stress, convective surface heat flux, shear magnitude, and thickness of the MI layer. In the LES, DCT occurs in discrete bursts during the night, exhibits high temporal variability within a burst, and modulates the mixed layer depth. At the daily time scale, turbulent heat flux generally increases with increasing wind stress, MI-layer shear, or nighttime convection. Convection is found to be important to mixing under weak wind, weak shear conditions. A parameterization for the daily averaged turbulent heat flux is developed from the LES suite to infer the variability of heat flux at the seasonal time scale. The LES-based parameterized heat flux, which takes into account the effects of all control parameters, exhibits a seasonal variability that is similar to the observed heat flux from the χ-pods.

Open access
Jinghong Wang
,
Yeqiang Shu
,
Dongxiao Wang
,
Ju Chen
,
Yang Yang
,
Weiqiang Wang
,
Binbin Guo
,
Ke Huang
, and
Yunkai He

Abstract

In the eastern off-equatorial Indian Ocean, deep current intraseasonal variability within a typical period of 10–20 days was revealed by a mooring at 5°N, 90.5°E, accounting for over 50% of the total bottom subtidal velocity variability. The 10–20-day oscillations were more energetic in the cross-isobathic direction (STD = 3.02 cm s−1) than those in the along-isobathic direction (STD = 1.50 cm s−1). The oscillations were interpreted as topographic Rossby waves (TRWs) because they satisfied the TRWs dispersion relation that considered the smaller Coriolis parameter and stronger β effect at low latitude. Further analysis indicated significant vertical coupling between the deep cross-slope oscillations and cross-isobathic 10–20-day perturbations at the depth of 300–950 m. The 10–20-day TRWs were generated by cross-isobathic motions under the potential vorticity conservation adjustment. The Mercator Ocean output reproduced the generation of kinetic energy (KE) of deep current variability. The associated diagnostic analysis of multiscale energetics showed that the KE of TRWs was mainly supplied by vertical pressure work. In the seamount region (2°–10°N, 89°–92°E), vertical and horizontal pressure works were identified to be the dominant energy source (contributing to 94% of the total KE source) and sink (contributing to 98% of the total KE sink) of the deep current variability, transporting energy downward and redistributing energy horizontally, respectively.

Open access
Anne Takahashi
,
Ren-Chieh Lien
,
Eric Kunze
,
Barry Ma
,
Hirohiko Nakamura
,
Ayako Nishina
,
Eisuke Tsutsumi
,
Ryuichiro Inoue
,
Takeyoshi Nagai
, and
Takahiro Endoh

Abstract

Generating mechanisms and parameterizations for enhanced turbulence in the wake of a seamount in the path of the Kuroshio are investigated. Full-depth profiles of finescale temperature, salinity, horizontal velocity, and microscale thermal-variance dissipation rate up- and downstream of the ∼10-km-wide seamount were measured with EM-APEX profiling floats and ADCP moorings. Energetic turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rates ε O ( 10 7 10 6 ) W kg 1 and diapycnal diffusivities K O ( 10 2 ) m 2 s 1 above the seamount flanks extend at least 20 km downstream. This extended turbulent wake length is inconsistent with isotropic turbulence, which is expected to decay in less than 100 m based on turbulence decay time of N −1 ∼ 100 s and the 0.5 m s−1 Kuroshio flow speed. Thus, the turbulent wake must be maintained by continuous replenishment which might arise from (i) nonlinear instability of a marginally unstable vortex wake, (ii) anisotropic stratified turbulence with expected downstream decay scales of 10–100 km, and/or (iii) lee-wave critical-layer trapping at the base of the Kuroshio. Three turbulence parameterizations operating on different scales, (i) finescale, (ii) large-eddy, and (iii) reduced-shear, are tested. Average ε vertical profiles are well reproduced by all three parameterizations. Vertical wavenumber spectra for shear and strain are saturated over 10–100 m vertical wavelengths comparable to water depth with spectral levels independent of ε and spectral slopes of −1, indicating that the wake flows are strongly nonlinear. In contrast, vertical divergence spectral levels increase with ε.

Open access
Scott Conn
,
Joseph Fitzgerald
, and
Jörn Callies

Abstract

The evolution of wind-generated near-inertial waves (NIWs) is known to be influenced by the mesoscale eddy field, yet it remains a challenge to disentangle the effects of this interaction in observations. Here, the model of Young and Ben Jelloul (YBJ), which describes NIW evolution in the presence of slowly evolving mesoscale eddies, is compared to observations from a mooring array in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. The model captures the evolution of both the observed NIW amplitude and phase much more accurately than a slab mixed layer model. The YBJ model allows for the identification of specific physical processes that drive the observed evolution. It reveals that differences in the NIW amplitude across the mooring array are caused by the refractive concentration of NIWs into anticyclones. Advection and wave dispersion also make important contributions to the observed wave evolution. Stimulated generation, a process by which mesoscale kinetic energy acts as a source of NIW potential energy, is estimated to be 20 μW m−2 in the region of the mooring array, which is two orders of magnitude smaller than the global average input to mesoscale kinetic energy and likely not an important contribution to the mesoscale kinetic energy budget in this region. Overall, the results show that the YBJ model is a quantitatively useful tool to interpret observations of NIWs.

Open access
Peter R. Oke
,
Tatiana Rykova
,
Bernadette M. Sloyan
, and
Ken R. Ridgway

Abstract

The East Australian Current (EAC) system includes a poleward jet that flows adjacent to the continental shelf, a southward and eastward extension, and a complex eddy field. The EAC jet is often observed to be subsurface intensified. Here, we explain that there are two factors that cause the EAC to develop a subsurface maximum. First, the EAC flows as a narrow current, carrying low-density water from the Coral Sea into the denser waters of the Tasman Sea. This results in horizontal density gradients with a different sign on either side of the jet, negative onshore and positive offshore. According to the thermal wind relation, this produces vertical gradients in southward current that are surface intensified onshore and subsurface intensified offshore. Second, we show that the winds over the shelf are mostly downwelling favorable, drawing the surface EAC waters onshore. This aligns the region of positive horizontal density gradients with the EAC core, producing a subsurface velocity maximum. The presence of a subsurface maximum may produce baroclinic instabilities that play a role in eddy formation and EAC separation from the coast.

Significance Statement

Observations of the East Australian Current (EAC) show that the strongest currents are often below the surface at about 100-m depth. Two factors cause this subsurface maximum. First, because the EAC is a narrow jet, carrying warm water southward from the Coral Sea, the density gradient across the jet changes sign, causing surface-intensified currents onshore and subsurface-intensified currents offshore. Second, the wind field over the shelf often pulls the shallow waters shoreward, shifting the waters that cause subsurface intensification to align with the center of the jet, resulting in a subsurface maximum of the EAC. This process may be responsible for the generation of eddies in the Tasman Sea.

Open access
Seth F. Zippel
,
James B. Edson
,
Malcolm E. Scully
, and
Oaklin R. Keefe

Abstract

Surface waves grow through a mechanism in which atmospheric pressure is offset in phase from the wavy surface. A pattern of low atmospheric pressure over upward wave orbital motions (leeward side) and high pressure over downward wave orbital motions (windward side) travels with the water wave, leading to a pumping of kinetic energy from the atmospheric boundary layer into the waves. This pressure pattern persists above the air–water interface, modifying the turbulent kinetic energy in the atmospheric wave-affected boundary layer. Here, we present field measurements of wave-coherent atmospheric pressure and velocity to elucidate the transfer of energy from the atmospheric turbulence budget into waves through wave-coherent atmospheric pressure work. Measurements show that the phase between wave-coherent pressure and velocity is shifted slightly above 90° when wind speed exceeds the wave phase speed, allowing for a downward energy flux via pressure work. Although previous studies have reported wave-coherent pressure, to the authors’ knowledge, these are the first reported field measurements of wave-coherent pressure work. Measured pressure work cospectra are consistent with an existing model for atmospheric pressure work. The implications for these measurements and their importance to the turbulent kinetic energy budget are discussed.

Significance Statement

Surface waves grow through a pattern of atmospheric pressure that travels with the water wave, acting as a pump against the water surface. The pressure pumping, sometimes called pressure work, or the piston pressure, results in a transfer of kinetic energy from the air to the water that makes waves grow larger. To conserve energy, it is thought that the pressure work on the surface must extract energy from the mean wind profile or wind turbulence that sets the shape of the wind speed with height. In this paper, we present direct measurements of pressure work in the atmosphere above surface waves. We show that the energy extracted by atmospheric pressure work fits existing models for how waves grow and a simple model for how waves reduce energy in the turbulent kinetic energy budget. To our knowledge, these are the first reported field measurements of wave-coherent pressure work.

Open access
Joseph Skitka
,
Brian K. Arbic
,
Ritabrata Thakur
,
Dimitris Menemenlis
,
William R. Peltier
,
Yulin Pan
,
Kayhan Momeni
, and
Yuchen Ma

Abstract

The internal wave (IW) continuum of a regional ocean model is studied in terms of the vertical spectral kinetic energy (KE) fluxes and transfers at high vertical wavenumbers. Previous work has shown that this model permits a partial representation of the IW cascade. In this work, vertical spectral KE flux is decomposed into catalyst, source, and destination vertical modes and frequency bands of nonlinear scattering, a framework that allows for the discernment of different types of nonlinear interactions involving both waves and eddies. Energy transfer within the supertidal IW continuum is found to be strongly dependent on resolution. Specifically, at a horizontal grid spacing of 1/48°, most KE in the supertidal continuum arrives there from lower-frequency modes through a single nonlinear interaction, whereas at 1/384° and with sufficient vertical resolution KE transfers within the supertidal IW continuum are comparable in size to KE transfer from lower-frequency modes. Additionally, comparisons are made with existing theoretical and observational work on energy pathways in the IW continuum. Induced diffusion (ID) is found to be associated with a weak forward frequency transfer within the supertidal IW continuum. ID is also limited to the highest vertical wavenumbers and is more sensitive to resolution relative to spectrally local interactions. At the same time, ID-like processes involving high-vertical-wavenumber near-inertial and tidal waves as well as low-vertical-wavenumber eddy fields are substantial, suggesting that the processes giving rise to a Garrett–Munk-like spectra in the present numerical simulation and perhaps the real ocean may be more varied than in idealized or wave-only frameworks.

Open access
Veit Lüschow
and
Jin-Song von Storch

Abstract

The simple scaling relation for internal-tide generation proposed by Jayne and St. Laurent is widely used for parameterizing turbulent mixing induced by breaking of internal tides. Based on the internal-tide generation derived from a 0.1° ocean general circulation model, we show that depending on which stratification is used, this relation produces different vertical distributions of internal-tide generation. When using the buoyancy frequency at the seafloor, which is a common practice, the scaling relation produces, relative to the model, too-strong internal-tide generation in the upper 2000 m and too-weak internal-tide generation in the lower 2000 m. Moreover, the different vertical distributions in the different ocean basins, characterized by a generally decreasing internal tide generation with increasing depth in the Indo-Pacific but not-decreasing or even increasing internal tide generation with increasing depth in the upper 3000 m of the Atlantic, cannot be captured when using bottom stratification. These unsatisfactory features can be easily removed by replacing the buoyancy frequency at the seafloor by a buoyancy frequency averaged over a large part of the water column. To our knowledge, this sensitivity to stratification has not been explicitly quantified for the global ocean. Because of this sensitivity, the scaling relation of Jayne and St. Laurent should be used with an averaged stratification to ensure a more adequate representation of turbulent diffusivity due to tidal mixing and water mass transformation in the deep oceans.

Open access