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Olivier Marchal and Ning Zhao

Abstract

Measurements of radiocarbon concentration (Δ14C) in fossil biogenic carbonates have been interpreted as reecting a reduced ventilation of the deep Atlantic during the last ice age. Here we evaluate the (in)consistency of an updated compilation of fossil Δ14C data for the last deglaciation with the abyssal circulation in the modern Atlantic. A 14C transport equation, in which the mean velocity field is a modern field estimate and turbulent flux divergence is treated as a random fluctuation, is fitted to deglacial Δ14C records by using recursive weighted least-squares. This approach allows us to interpret the records in terms of deviations from the modern flow with due regard for uncertainties in the fossil data, the 14C transport equation, and its boundary conditions.

We find that the majority of fit residuals could be explained by uncertainties in fossil Δ14C data, for two distinct estimates of the modern flow and of the error variance in the boundary conditions. Thus, most, not all, deglacial data appear consistent with present-day ventilation rates. From 20 to 32% of the residuals exceed in magnitude the published errors in the fossil data by a factor of two. Residuals below 4000 m in the western North Atlantic are all negative, suggesting that deglacial Δ14C values from this region are too low to be explained by modern ventilation. Whilst deep water ventilation appeared different from today at some locations, a larger database and a better understanding of error (co)variances are needed to make reliable paleoceanographic inferences from fossil Δ14C records.

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K.H. Brink

Abstract

A linear numerical model of an island or a tall seamount is used to explore superinertial leaky resonances forced by ambient vertically and horizontally uniform current fluctuations. The model assumes a circularly symmetric topography (including a shallow reef) and allows realistic stratification and bottom friction. As long as there is substantial stratification, a number of leaky resonances are found, and when the island’s flanks are narrow relative to the internal Rossby radius, some of the near-resonant modes resemble leaky internal Kelvin waves. Other “resonances” resemble higher radial mode long gravity waves as explored by Chambers (1965). The near-resonances amplify the cross-reef velocities that help fuel biological activity. Results for cases with the central island replaced by a lagoon do not differ greatly from the island case which has land at the center. As an aside, insight is provided on the question of offshore boundary conditions for superinertial nearly trapped waves along a straight coast.

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Laurent M. Chérubin, Nicolas Le Paih, and Xavier Carton

Abstract

The Florida Current (FC) flows in the Straits of Florida (SoF) and connects the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf Stream (GS) in the Western Atlantic Ocean. Its journey through the SoF is at time characterized by the formation and presence of mesoscale but mostly submesoscale frontal eddies on the cyclonic side of the current. The formation of those frontal eddies was investigated in a very high resolution two-way nested simulation using the Regional Oceanic Modeling System (ROMS). Frontal eddies were either locally formed or originated from outside the SoF. The northern front of the incoming eddies was susceptible to superinertial shear instability over the shelf slope when the eddies were pushed up against the slope by the FC. Otherwise, incoming eddies could be advected relatively unaffected by the current, when in the southern part of the straits. In absence of incoming eddies, submesoscale eddies were locally formed by the roll-up of superinertial barotropically unstable vorticity filaments when the FC was pushed up against the shelf slope. The vorticity filaments were intensified by the friction-induced bottom layer vorticity flux as previously demonstrated by Gula et al. (2015b) in the GS. When the FC retreated further south, negative vorticity West Florida Shelf waters overflowed into the SOF and led to the formation of submesocale eddies by baroclinic instability. The instability regimes, hence, the submesoscale frontal eddies formation appear to be controlled by the lateral ‘sloshing’ of the FC in the SoF.

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Johannes Becherer, James N. Moum, Joseph Calantoni, John A. Colosi, John A. Barth, James A. Lerczak, Jacqueline M. McSweeney, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, and Amy F. Waterhouse

Abstract

Here, we develop a framework for understanding the observations presented in the accompanying paper (Part I) by Becherer et al. (2021). In this framework, the internal tide saturates as it shoals due to amplitude limitation with decreasing water depth (H). From this framework evolves estimates of averaged energetics of the internal tide; specifically, energy, 〈APE〉, energy flux, 〈FE〉, and energy flux divergence, xFE〉. Since we observe that 〈D〉 ≈ xFE〉, we also interpret our estimate of xFE〉 as 〈D〉. These estimates represent a parameterization of the energy in the internal tide as it saturates over the inner continental shelf. The parameterization depends solely on depth-mean stratification and bathymetry. A summary result is that the cross-shelf depth dependencies of 〈APE〉, 〈FE〉 and xFE〉 are analogous to those for shoaling surface gravity waves in the surf zone, suggesting that the inner shelf is the surf zone for the internal tide. A test of our simple parameterization against a range of data sets suggests that it is broadly applicable.

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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 non-breaking conditions. In the present study, analytical solutions of the group-forced IG waves at O(β1) (β1=hx/Δkh, hx =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 (β1μ1=O(β1), where μ=1cg2/gh is the resonant departure parameter, cg = group speed) in intermediate water, additional IG waves in quadrature with the wave group forcing (hereinafter as the non-equilibrium response or component) are induced at O(β1) relative to the equilibrium bound IG wave solution of Longuet-Higgins and Stewart (1962) in phase with the wave group. The present theory indicates that the non-equilibrium response is mainly attributed to the spatial variation of the equilibrium bound IG wave amplitude instead of group-forcing. In case of near-resonance (β1μ1=O(1)) in shallow water, however, both the equilibrium and non-equilibrium 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 Van Noorloos (2003) and the present numerical model results 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.

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Arjun Jagannathan, Kaushik Srinivasan, James C. McWilliams, M. Jeroen Molemaker, and Andrew L. Stewart

Abstract

Current–topography interactions in the ocean give rise to eddies spanning a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. The latest modeling efforts indicate that coastal and underwater topography are important generation sites for submesoscale coherent vortices (SCVs), characterized by horizontal scales of O(0.110)km. Using idealized, submesoscale and bottom boundary layer (BBL)-resolving simulations and adopting an integrated vorticity balance formulation, we quantify precisely the role of BBLs in the vorticity generation process. In particular, we show that vorticity generation on topographic slopes is attributable primarily to the torque exerted by the vertical divergence of stress at the bottom. We refer to this as the bottom stress divergence torque (BSDT). BSDT is a fundamentally nonconservative torque that appears as a source term in the integrated vorticity budget and is to be distinguished from the more familiar bottom stress curl (BSC). It is closely connected to the bottom pressure torque (BPT) via the horizontal momentum balance at the bottom and is in fact shown to be the dominant component of BPT in solutions with a well-resolved BBL. This suggests an interpretation of BPT as the sum of a viscous, vorticity-generating component (BSDT) and an inviscid, “flow-turning” component. Companion simulations without bottom drag illustrate that although vorticity generation can still occur through the inviscid mechanisms of vortex stretching and tilting, the wake eddies tend to have weaker circulation, be substantially less energetic, and have smaller spatial scales.

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Bieito Fernández-Castro, Dafydd Gwyn Evans, Eleanor Frajka-Williams, Clément Vic, and Alberto C. Naveira-Garabato
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Justin M. Brown and Timour Radko

Abstract

Arctic staircases mediate the heat transport from the warm water of Atlantic origin to the cooler waters of the Arctic mixed layer. For this reason, staircases have received much due attention from the community, and their heat transport has been well characterized for systems in the absence of external forcing. However, the ocean is a dynamic environment with large-scale currents and internal waves being omnipresent, even in regions shielded by sea ice. Thus, we have attempted to address the effects of background shear on fully developed staircases using numerical simulations. The code, which is pseudospectral, solves the governing equations for a Boussinesq fluid with temperature and salinity in a shearing coordinate system. We find that—unlike many other double-diffusive systems—the sheared staircase requires three-dimensional simulations to properly capture the dynamics. Our simulations predict shear patterns that are consistent with observations and show that staircases in the presence of external shear should be expected to transport heat and salt at least twice as efficiently as in the corresponding nonsheared systems. These findings may lead to critical improvements in the representation of microscale mixing in global climate models.

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YUE BAI, YAN WANG, and ANDREW L. STEWART

Abstract

Topographic form stress (TFS) plays a central role in constraining the transport of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), and thus the rate of exchange between the major ocean basins. Topographic form stress generation in the ACC has been linked to the formation of standing Rossby waves, which occur because the current is retrograde (opposing the direction of Rossby wave propagation). However, it is unclear whether TFS similarly retards current systems that are prograde (in the direction of Rossby wave propagation), which cannot arrest Rossby waves. An isopycnal model is used to investigate the momentum balance of wind-driven prograde and retrograde flows in a zonal channel, with bathymetry consisting of either a single ridge or a continental shelf and slope with a meridional excursion. Consistent with previous studies, retrograde flows are almost entirely impeded by TFS, except in the limit of flat bathymetry, whereas prograde flows are typically impeded by a combination of TFS and bottom friction. A barotropic theory for standing waves shows that bottom friction serves to shift the phase of the standing wave’s pressure field from that of the bathymetry, which is necessary to produce TFS. The mechanism is the same in prograde and retrograde flows, but is most efficient when the mean flow arrests a Rossby wave with a wavelength comparable to that of the bathymetry. The asymmetry between prograde and retrograde momentum balances implies that prograde current systems may be more sensitive to changes in wind forcing, for example associated with climate shifts.

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Bertrand L. Delorme, Leif N. Thomas, Patrick Marchesiello, Jonathan Gula, Guillaume Roullet, and M. Jeroen Molemaker

Abstract

Recent theoretical work has shown that, when the so-called nontraditional effects are taken into account, the reflection of equatorially trapped waves (ETWs) off the seafloor generates strong vertical shear that results in bottom-intensified mixing at the inertial latitude of the ETW via a mechanism of critical reflection. It has been estimated that this process could play an important role in driving diapycnal upwelling in the abyssal meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). However, these results were derived under an idealized configuration with a monochromatic ETW propagating through a flat ocean at rest. To test the theory in a flow that is more representative of the ocean, we contrast a set of realistic numerical simulations of the eastern equatorial Pacific run using either the hydrostatic or quasi-hydrostatic approximation, the latter of which accounts for nontraditional effects. The simulations are nested into a Pacific-wide hydrostatic parent solution forced with climatological data and realistic bathymetry, resulting in an ETW field and a deep circulation consistent with observations. Using these simulations, we observe enhanced abyssal mixing in the quasi-hydrostatic run, even over smooth topography, that is absent in the hydrostatic run. The mixing is associated with inertial shear that has spatiotemporal properties consistent with the critical reflection mechanism. The enhanced mixing results in a weakening of the abyssal stratification and drives diapycnal upwelling in our simulation, in agreement with the predictions from the idealized simulations. The diapycnal upwelling is O(10) Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) and thus could play an important role in closing the AMOC.

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