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Veit Lüschow, Jochem Marotzke, and Jin-Song von Storch

Abstract

In this paper, the overturning responses to wind stress changes of an eddying ocean and a non-eddying ocean are compared. Differences are found in the deep overturning cell in the low-latitude North Atlantic Ocean with substantial implications for the deep western boundary current (DWBC). In an ocean-only twin experiment with one eddying and one non-eddying configuration of the MPI ocean model, two different forcings are being applied: the standard NCEP forcing and the NCEP forcing with 2× surface wind stress. The response to the wind stress doubling in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation is similar in the eddying and the non-eddying configuration, showing an increase by about 4 Sv (~25%; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). In contrast, the DWBC responds with a speedup in the non-eddying configuration and a slowdown in the eddying configuration. This paper demonstrates that the DWBC slowdown in the eddying configuration is largely balanced by eddy vorticity fluxes. Because those fluxes are not resolved and also not captured by an eddy parameterization in the non-eddying configuration, such a DWBC slowdown is likely not to occur in non-eddying ocean models, which therefore might not capture the whole range of overturning responses. Furthermore, evidence is provided that the balancing effect of the eddies is not a passive reaction to a remotely triggered DWBC slowdown. Instead, deep eddies that are sourced from the upper ocean provide an excess input of relative vorticity that then actively forces the DWBC mean flow to slow down.

Open access
Agnieszka Herman

Abstract

Dissipation within the turbulent boundary layer under sea ice is one of many processes contributing to wave energy attenuation in ice-covered seas. Although recent observations suggest that the contribution of that process to the total energy dissipation is significant, its parameterizations used in spectral wave models are based on fairly crude, heuristic approximations. In this paper, an improved source term for the under-ice turbulent dissipation is proposed, taking into account the spectral nature of that process (as opposed to parameterizations that are based on the so-called representative wave), as well as effects related to sea ice concentration and floe-size distribution, formulated on the basis of the earlier results of discrete-element modeling. The core of the new source term is based on an analogous model for dissipation due to bottom friction derived by Weber in 1991 (https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022112091003634). The shape of the wave energy attenuation curves and the frequency dependence of the attenuation coefficients are analyzed in detail for compact sea ice. The role of floe size in modifying the attenuation intensity and spectral distribution is illustrated by calibrating the model to observational data from a sudden sea ice breakup event in the marginal ice zone.

Open access
Tao Wang, Roy Barkan, James C. McWilliams, and M. Jeroen Molemaker

Abstract

Submesoscale currents (SMCs), in the forms of fronts, filaments, and vortices, are studied using a high-resolution (~150 m) Regional Oceanic Modeling System (ROMS) simulation in the Mississippi River plume system. Fronts and filaments are identified by large horizontal velocity and buoyancy gradients, surface convergence, and cyclonic vertical vorticity with along-coast fronts and along-plume-edge filaments notably evident. Frontogenesis and arrest/destruction are two fundamental phases in the life cycle of fronts and filaments. In the Mississippi River plume region, the horizontal advective tendency induced by confluence and convergence plays a primary role in frontogenesis. Confluent currents sharpen preexisting horizontal buoyancy gradients and initiate frontogenesis. Once the fronts and filaments are formed and the Rossby number reaches O(1), they further evolve frontogenetically mainly by convergent secondary circulations, which can be maintained by different cross-front momentum balance regimes. Confluent motions and preexisting horizontal buoyancy gradients depend on the interaction between wind-induced Ekman transport and the spreading plume water. Consequently, the direction of wind has a significant effect on the temporal variability of SMCs, with more active SMCs generated during a coastally downwelling-favorable wind and fewer SMCs during an upwelling-favorable wind. Submesoscale instabilities (~1–3 km) play a primary role in the arrest and fragmentation of most fronts and filaments. These instabilities propagate along the fronts and filaments, and their energy conversion is a mixed barotropic–baroclinic type with horizontal-shear instabilities dominating.

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André Palóczy, Jennifer A. MacKinnon, and Amy F. Waterhouse

Abstract

We describe the spatiotemporal variability and vertical structure of turbulent Reynolds stresses (RSs) in a stratified inner shelf with an energetic internal wave climate. The RSs are estimated from direct measurements of velocity variance derived from bottom-mounted acoustic Doppler current profilers. We link the RSs to different physical processes, namely, internal bores, midwater shear instabilities within vertical shear events related to wind-driven subtidal along-shelf currents, and nonturbulent stresses related to incoming nonlinear internal wave (NLIW) trains. The typical RS magnitudes are O(0.01) Pa for background conditions, with diurnal pulses of O(0.1–1) Pa, and O(1) Pa for the NLIW stresses. A NLIW train is observed to produce a depth-averaged vertical stress divergence sufficient to accelerate water 20 cm s−1 in 1 h, suggesting NLIWs may also be important contributors to the depth-averaged momentum budget. The subtidal stresses show significant periodic variability and are O(0.1) Pa. Conditionally averaged velocity and RS profiles for northward/southward flow provide evidence for downgradient turbulent momentum fluxes, but also indicate departures from this expected regime. Estimates of the terms in the depth-averaged momentum equation suggest that the vertical divergence of the RSs are important terms in both the cross-shelf and along-shelf directions, with geostrophy also present at leading-order in the cross-shelf momentum balance. Among other conclusions, the results highlight that internal bores and shoaling NLIWs may also be important dynamical players in other inner shelves with energetic internal waves.

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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 non-traditional 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 non-traditional 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 spatio-temporal 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 on the order of O(10) Sv and thus could play an important role in closing the AMOC.

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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 pseudo-spectral, evolves 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 non-sheared systems. These findings may lead to critical improvements in the representation of micro-scale mixing in global climate models.

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S. W. Stevens, R. Pawlowicz, and S. E. Allen

Abstract

The intermediate circulation of the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada, plays a key role in dispersing contaminants throughout the Salish Sea, yet little is known about its dynamics. Here, we use hydrographic observations and hindcast fields from a regional 3D model to approach the intermediate circulation from three perspectives. Firstly, we derive and model a “seasonality” tracer from temperature observations to age the water, estimate mixing, and infer circulation. Secondly, we analyze modeled velocity fields to create mean current maps and examine the advective and diffusive components of the mean flow field. Lastly, we calculate Lagrangian trajectories to derive Transit Time Distributions and Lagrangian statistics. In combination, these analyses provide an overview of the mean intermediate circulation that can be summarized as follows: subducting water in Haro Strait ventilates the intermediate water primarily via an up-strait boundary current that flows along the eastern shores of the southernmost basin in 1–2 months. This inflowing water is either incorporated into the interior of the basin, recirculated southwards, or transported into the northernmost basin, mixing steadily with adjacent water masses during its transit. A second, shallower ventilating jet emanates southwards from Discovery Passage, locally modifying the Haro Strait inflow signal. Outside of these well-defined advective features, diffusive transport dominates in the majority of the region. The intermediate renewal signal fully ventilates the region in 100–140 days, which serves as a benchmark for contaminant dispersal timescale estimates.

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Olivier Marchal and Ning Zhao

Abstract

Radiocarbon dates of fossil carbonates sampled from sediment cores and the seafloor have been used to infer that deep ocean ventilation during the last ice age was different from today. In this first of paired papers, the time-averaged abyssal circulation in the modern Atlantic is estimated by combining a hydrographic climatology, observational estimates of volume transports, Argo float velocities at 1000 m, radiocarbon data, and geostrophic dynamics. Different estimates of modern circulation, obtained from different prior assumptions about the abyssal flow and different errors in the geostrophic balance, are produced for use in a robust interpretation of fossil records in terms of deviations from the present-day flow, which is undertaken in the second paper.

For all estimates, the meridional transport integrated zonally and averaged over a hemisphere, 〈Vk〉, is southward between 1000-4000 m in both hemispheres, northward between 4000-5000 m in the South Atlantic, and insignificant between 4000-5000 m in the North Atlantic. Estimates of 〈Vk〉 obtained from two distinct prior circulations - one based on a level of no motion at 4000 m and one based on Argo oat velocities at 1000 m - become statistically indistinguishable when Δ14C data are considered. The transport time scale, defined as τk = Vk/〈Vk〉, where Vk is the volume of the kth layer, is estimated to about a century between 1000-3000 m in both the South and North Atlantic, 124±9 yr (203±23 yr) between 3000-4000 m in the South (North) Atlantic, and 269±115 yr between 4000-5000 m in the South Atlantic.

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Lianxin Zhang, Xuefeng Zhang, William Perrie, Changlong Guan, Bo Dan, Chunjian Sun, Xinrong Wu, Kexiu Liu, and Dong Li

Abstract

A coupled ocean-wave-sea spray model system is used to investigate the impacts of sea spray and sea surface roughness on the response of the upper ocean to the passage of the super typhoon Haitang. Sea spray mediated heat and momentum fluxes are derived from an improved version of Fairall’s heat fluxes formulation (Zhang et al., 2017) and Andreas’s sea spray-mediated momentum flux models. For winds ranging from low to extremely high speeds, a new parameterization scheme for the sea surface roughness is developed, in which the effects of wave state and sea spray are introduced. In this formulation, the drag coefficient has minimal values over the right quadrant of the typhoon track, along which the typhoon-generated waves are longer, smoother, and older, compared to other quadrants. Using traditional interfacial air-sea turbulent (sensible, latent, and momentum) fluxes, the sea surface cooling response to typhoon Haitang is overestimated by 1 °C, which can be compensated by the effects of sea spray and ocean waves on the right side of the storm. Inclusion of sea spray-mediated turbulent fluxes and sea surface roughness, modulated by ocean waves, gives enhanced cooling along the left edges of the cooling area by 0.2 °C, consistent with the upper ocean temperature observations.

Open access
Hongjie Li and Yongsheng Xu

Abstract

Stratified geostrophic turbulence theory predicts an inverse energy cascade for the barotropic (BT) mode. Satellite altimetry has revealed a net inverse cascade in the baroclinic (BC) mode. Here the spatial variabilities of BT and BC kinetic energy fluxes in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) were investigated using ECCO2 data, which synthesize satellite data and in situ measurements with an eddy-permitting general circulation model containing realistic bathymetry and wind forcing. The BT and BC inverse kinetic energy cascades both reveal complex spatial variations that could not be explained fully by classical arguments. For example, the BC injection scales match better with most unstable scales than with the first-mode deformation scales, but the opposite is true for the BT mode. In addition, the BT and BC arrest scales do not follow the Rhines scale well in terms of spatial variation, but show better consistency with their own energy-containing scales. The reverse cascade of the BT and BC modes was found related to their EKE, and better correlation was found between the BT inverse cascade and barotropization. Speculations of the findings were proposed; however, further observations and modeling experiments are needed to test these interpretations. Spectral flux anisotropy exhibits a feature associated with oceanic jets that is consistent with classical expectations. Specifically, the spectral flux along the along-stream direction remains negative at scales up to that of the studied domain (~2000 km), while that in the perpendicular direction becomes positive close to the scale of the width of a typical jet.

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