Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 8,350 items for :

  • Journal of Physical Oceanography x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All
Jia You
,
Zhenhua Xu
,
Qun Li
,
Peiwen Zhang
,
Baoshu Yin
, and
Yijun Hou

Abstract

Energetic internal tides in the Pacific Ocean generated from multiple sources are the subject of many studies, although the subpolar North Pacific (SNP) is known as a high latitude hotspot that remains less explored. The present study is the first detailed investigation on M2 internal tide energetics and dynamics in the SNP by high-resolution numerical simulations. M2 internal tides in the SNP mainly originate from the Aleutian Ridge (area-integrated 5.51 GW and averaged ∼10−3 W/m−2 of barotropic-to-baroclinic conversion rate), wherein the Amukta Pass is the most significant source. The Amukta Pass radiates northward 0.55 GW (averaged 2.3 kW/m) to the Bering Sea and southward 1.40 GW (averaged 3.7 kW/m) to the North Pacific. The subsequent south north asymmetric radiation pattern is consistent with satellite altimeter detection. In the Bering basin, multiwave superposition in the near field between the Amukta Pass and adjacent sources generates two standing wave patterns. After approaching the Bering Sea slope, remote internal tides from Aleutian Ridge enhance local generation and dissipation. The dissipation field is relatively similar to the generation map, which is explained by the higher local dissipation efficiency q (>1/2) and the faster energy attenuation than in the mid-latitudes. The simulated dissipation rates compare favorably with the estimate from fine-scale parameterization, indicating the dominance of internal tidal mixing. The averaged dissipation rate in SNP is O(10−10) W/kg, and the depth-integrated dissipation rates reach O(10−1) W/m2 near the Amukta Pass. It is important to understand the unique physics and dissipative process of high-latitude internal tides to fully characterize the redistribution of global tidal energy and associated mixing.

Restricted access
Ryan D. Patmore
,
Paul R. Holland
,
Catherine A. Vreugdenhil
,
Adrian Jenkins
, and
John R. Taylor

Abstract

The ice shelf–ocean boundary current has an important control on heat delivery to the base of an ice shelf. Climate and regional models that include a representation of ice shelf cavities often use a coarse grid, and results have a strong dependence on resolution near the ice shelf–ocean interface. This study models the ice shelf–ocean boundary current with a nonhydrostatic z-level configuration at turbulence-permitting resolution (1 m). The z-level model performs well when compared against state-of-the-art large-eddy simulations, showing its capability in representing the correct physics. We show that theoretical results from a one-dimensional model with parameterized turbulence reproduce the z-level model results to a good degree, indicating possible utility as a turbulence closure. The one-dimensional model evolves to a state of marginal instability, and we use the z-level model to demonstrate how this is represented in three dimensions. Instabilities emerge that regulate the strength of the pycnocline and coexist with persistent Ekman rolls, which are identified prior to the flow becoming intermittently unstable. When resolution of the z-level model is degraded to understand the gridscale dependencies, the degradation is dominated by the established problem of excessive numerical diffusion. We show that at intermediate resolutions (2–4 m), the boundary layer structure can be partially recovered by tuning diffusivities. Last, we compare replacing prescribed melting with interactive melting that is dependent on the local ocean conditions. Interactive melting results in a feedback such that the system evolves more slowly, which is exaggerated at lower resolution.

Open access
Junde Li
and
Moninya Roughan

Abstract

Examining eddy–mean flow interactions in western boundary currents is crucial for understanding the mechanisms of mesoscale eddy generation and the role of eddies in the large-scale circulation. However, this analysis is lacking in the East Australian Current (EAC) system. Here we show the detailed three-dimensional structure of the eddy–mean flow interactions and energy budget in the EAC system. The energy reservoirs and conversions are greatest in the upper 500 m, with complex vertical structures. Strong mean kinetic energy is confined within a narrow band (24.5°–32.5°S) in the EAC jet. Most energy is contained in the eddy fields instead of the mean flow in the EAC typical separation and extension regions (south of 32.5°S). Strong barotropic instability is the primary source of eddy kinetic energy north of 36°S, while baroclinic instability dominates the eddy kinetic energy production in the EAC southern extension, which peaks in the subsurface. The mean flow transfers 5.22 GW of kinetic energy and 3.33 GW of available potential energy to the eddy field in the EAC typical separation region. The largest conversion term is from available potential energy conversion from the mean flow to the eddy field through baroclinic instability, dominating between 29° and 35.5°S. Nonlocal eddy–mean flow interactions also play a role in the energy exchange between the mean flow and the eddy fields. This study provides the mean state of the eddy–mean flow interactions in the EAC system, paving the way for further studies exploring seasonal and interannual variability and provides a baseline for assessing the impact of environmental change.

Open access
Xuhua Cheng
,
Lanman Li
,
Zhiyou Jing
,
Haijin Cao
,
Guidi Zhou
,
Wei Duan
, and
Yifei Zhou

Abstract

This study investigates the seasonal features and generation mechanisms of submesoscale processes (SMPs) in the southern Bay of Bengal (BoB) during 2011-2012, based on the output of a high-resolution model, LLC4320 (latitude-longitude polar cap). The results show that the southern BoB exhibits the most energetic SMPs, with significant seasonal variations. The SMPs are more active during the summer and winter monsoon periods. During the monsoon periods, the sharpening horizontal buoyancy gradients associated with strong straining effects favor the frontogenesis and mixed layer instability (MLI), which are responsible for the SMPs generation. Symmetric instability (SI) scale is about 3-10 km in the southern BoB, which can be partially resolved by LLC4320. The SI is more active during summer and winter, with a proportion of 40%-80% during study period when necessary conditions for SI is satisfied. Energetics analysis suggests that the energy source of SMPs is mainly from the local largescale and mesoscale processes. Baroclinic instability at submesoscales plays a significant role, further confirming the importance of frontogenesis and MLI. Barotropic instability also has considerable contribution to the submesoscale kinetic energy, especially during summer.

Restricted access
Xiao Ma
,
Hailong Liu
, and
Xidong Wang

Abstract

This study reveals the role of the tropical Atlantic variability in modulating barrier layer thickness (BLT) in peak seasons. Based on reanalysis data during 1980–2016, statistical and dynamical analyses are performed to investigate the mechanism of BLT variability associated with the tropical Atlantic modes. The regions with significant correlation between BLT and tropical Atlantic modes are located on the northwest and southeast coasts of the tropical Atlantic, which are consistent with BLT maximum variability regions. In boreal spring, BLT decreases in the northwest because less latent heat release affected by weak trade wind related to the Atlantic meridional mode (AMM) shoals the isothermal layer depth (ITLD). In the south equatorial Atlantic, deepened mixed layer depth (MLD) is controlled by the decreasing freshwater input brought by a northward shift of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and further leads to a thinner barrier layer (BL). However, a shoaling MLD appears in the north equatorial Atlantic, which results from excessive freshwater input, causing a thick BL there. In boreal summer, positive runoff anomaly caused by the Atlantic equatorial mode (AEM) leads to upper warming of the tropical northwest Atlantic and a shallowing ITLD, favoring a thinner BL there. However, a southward shift of ITCZ brings more freshwater into the south equatorial Atlantic, inducing a shallowing MLD as well as a thicker BL. AEM-driven horizontal heat advection of the south equatorial current contributes to a thick ITLD in the central southern tropical Atlantic and thus increases BLT.

Significance Statement

This research aims to reveal how the tropical Atlantic meridional and equatorial interannual climatic modes affect barrier layer thickness (BLT). These two climate modes can affect the wind field, ocean current, and precipitation through air–sea interaction processes, and further affect mixing, heat–salt transport, and stratification in the upper ocean and thus BLT. This finding is important because the barrier layer restricts the exchange of heat, momentum, mass, and nutrients between the mixed layer and the thermocline, thereby impacting local and remote weather events, the ecological environment, and the climate. Our results provide guidance for interpreting the interannual variability of BLT in the tropical Atlantic.

Restricted access
Peng Cheng

Abstract

A linear three-dimensional analytical model was developed to investigate the lateral circulation in an elongated tidal channel with mildly curved bends of which radius of curvature is larger than the width. The curvature induced lateral circulation has two components with the same amplitude, namely a periodic component having an overtide frequency and a steady component. The combination of the two components allows the strength of the lateral circulation to vary periodically and the rotation direction to be unchanged during a tidal period. Friction modifies the strength and structure of the lateral circulation. The phase between the lateral flow and streamwise tidal flow decreases with increasing friction, indicating that the two flows are not necessarily in phase unless friction is strong. The lateral circulations driven by Coriolis and curvature centrifugal forces augment each other during one phase and compete in the opposite phase, and the relative importance of the two circulations is determined by the Rossby number and friction. The adaptation time is the same for spin-up and spin-down of the curvature induced lateral circulation and is determined by water depth and vertical eddy viscosity. The estimation of the adaptation time depends on leading modes because the transition solution of the curvature induced lateral circulation comprises a series of cosine modes. These results provide a theoretical basis for interpreting curvature induced lateral circulation in tidal channels and coastal headlands.

Restricted access
Jianing Li
,
Qingxuan Yang
,
Hui Sun
,
Shuwen Zhang
,
Lingling Xie
,
Qingye Wang
,
Wei Zhao
, and
Jiwei Tian

Abstract

This study focuses on the statistical features of dissipation flux coefficient Γ in the upper South China Sea (SCS). Based on the microscale measurements collected at 158 stations in the upper SCS and derived dissipation rates of turbulent kinetic energy and temperature variance ε and χT , via a modified method, we estimate Γ and analyze its spatiotemporal variation in an energetic and a quiescent region. We show that Γ is highly variable, which scatters over three orders of magnitude from 10−2 to 101 in both regions. Ιn the energetic region, Γ is slightly greater than in the quiescent region; their median values are 0.23 and 0.17, respectively. Vertically, Γ presents a clear increasing tendency with depth in both regions, though the increasing rate is greater in the energetic region than in the quiescent region. In the upper SCS, Γ positively depends on the buoyancy Reynolds number Re b and negatively depends on the ratio of the Ozmidov scale to the Thorpe scale R OT and is scaled as Γ Re b 1 / 2 R OT 4 / 3 , which holds for both regions. The vertical decreasing of R OT is observed, which yields parameterization of R OT = 10−0.002 z ; this parameterization improves the performance of the Thorpe-scale method by reducing at least 50% of the bias between the observed and parameterized ε. These results shed new light on the spatiotemporal variability and modulating mechanism of Γ in the upper ocean.

Significance Statement

The great global ocean conveyor is maintained by vertical mixing. Turbulent kinetic energy released by local internal wave breaking goes into two parts: one part is used to furnish this vertical mixing, and the rest is dissipated into irreversible heat. The ratio of these two parts is termed as the dissipation flux coefficient and is usually treated as a constant. Our measurements suggest that this coefficient is highly spatiotemporally variable. Specific relationships are obtained when scaling this coefficient with other parameters, and mechanisms modulating this coefficient are also explored. This study sheds light on how much turbulent kinetic energy contributes to elevating the potential energy and its associated influences not only in marginal seas but also in open oceans.

Restricted access
Erick R. Olvera-Prado
,
Efraín Moreles
,
Jorge Zavala-Hidalgo
, and
Rosario Romero-Centeno

Abstract

The study of the relationship between the upper and lower layers in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) has experienced a lot of progress in recent years. Nevertheless, an examination of their coupling for the entire GoM in a statistically consistent manner is still needed. Layer thickness data from a GoM 21-yr free-running simulation are used to examine the coupling between the upper (<250 m) and lower (>1000 m) layers, focusing on the dominant modes of variability through a Hilbert empirical orthogonal function (HEOF) analysis. The results show that the three leading modes are associated with the coupling between both layers during the life cycle of the Loop Current (LC) and the LC eddy (LCE) separation process, consistent with previous observational studies. These modes are cyclical, with periodicities in agreement with the mean LCE separation period, indicating recurrence of the circulation patterns. The fourth mode of the upper layer is associated with the translation of LCEs and their dissipation in the northwestern GoM, while in the lower layer it captures variability related to the strengthening of the circulation along the Sigsbee Gyre western branch. This mode does not show cyclicity, suggesting persistence of the associated circulation patterns with a dominant time scale of 14 months. Evidence and corroboration of recently observed lower-layer circulation features are provided. The application of the HEOF technique used here can complement the three-dimensional oceanic assimilation methods by projecting surface information to depth in a statistically consistent manner.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to better understand the relationship between the upper and lower ocean layers in the Gulf of Mexico. While much is known about their variability separately, an examination of the coupling through the whole region and in a long time period is still needed. We use a free numerical simulation of the circulation in the Gulf to accomplish this goal. The dominant circulation patterns in the lower layer are tied to the upper ones and are governed by the same temporal scales. Our findings point to a way to better understand the response of deep circulation to upper circulation, and may contribute to a better prediction of ocean dynamics.

Restricted access
Mika P. Malila
,
Francesco Barbariol
,
Alvise Benetazzo
,
Øyvind Breivik
,
Anne Karin Magnusson
,
Jim Thomson
, and
Brian Ward

Abstract

Wave crests of unexpected height and steepness pose a danger to activities at sea, and long-term field measurements provide important clues for understanding the environmental conditions that are conducive to their generation and behavior. We present a novel dataset of high-frequency laser altimeter measurements of the sea surface elevation gathered over a period of 18 years from 2003 to 2020 on an offshore platform in the central North Sea. Our analysis of crest height distributions in the dataset shows that mature, high sea states with high spectral steepness and narrow directional spreading exhibit crest height statistics that significantly deviate from standard second-order models. Conversely, crest heights in developing sea states with similarly high steepness but wide directional spread correspond well to second-order theory adjusted for broad frequency bandwidth. The long-term point time series measurements are complemented with space–time stereo video observations from the same location, collected during five separate storm events during the 2019/20 winter season. An examination of the crest dynamics of the space–time extreme wave crests in the stereo video dataset reveals that the crest speeds exhibit a slowdown localized around the moment of maximum crest elevation, in line with prevailing theory on nonlinear wave group dynamics. Extending on previously published observations focused on breaking crests, our results are consistent for both breaking and nonbreaking extreme crests. We show that wave crest steepness estimated from time series using the linear dispersion relation may overestimate the geometrically measured crest steepness by up to 25% if the crest speed slowdown is not taken into account.

Significance Statement

Better understanding of the statistics and dynamical behavior of extreme ocean surface wave crests is crucial for improving the safety of various operations at sea. Our study provides new, long-term field evidence of the combined effects of wave field steepness and directionality on the statistical distributions of crest heights in storm conditions. Moreover, we show that the dynamical characteristics of extreme wave crests are well described by recently identified nonlinear wave group dynamics. This finding has implications, for example, for wave force calculations and the treatment of wave breaking in numerical wave models.

Restricted access
Andrew L. Stewart
,
Nicole K. Neumann
, and
Aviv Solodoch

Abstract

It is now well established that changes in the zonal wind stress over the ACC do not lead to changes in its baroclinicity nor baroclinic transport, a phenomenon referred to as “eddy saturation”. Previous studies provide contrasting dynamical mechanisms for this phenomenon: on one extreme, changes in the winds lead to changes the efficiency with which transient eddies transfer momentum to the sea floor; on the other, structural adjustments of the ACC’s standing meanders increase the efficiency of momentum transfer. In this study the authors investigate the relative importance of these mechanisms using an idealized, isopycnal channel model of the ACC. Via separate diagnoses of the model’s time-mean flow and eddy diffusivity, the authors decompose the model’s response to changes in wind stress into contributions from transient eddies and the mean flow. A key result is that holding the transient eddy diffusivity constant while varying the mean flow very closely compensates changes in the wind stress, whereas holding the mean flow constant and varying the eddy diffusivity does not. This implies that “eddy saturation” primarily occurs due to adjustments in the ACC’s standing waves/meanders, rather than due to adjustments of transient eddy behavior. The authors derive a quasi-geostrophic theory for ACC transport saturation by standing waves, in which the transient eddy diffusivity is held fixed, and thus provides dynamical insights into standing wave adjustment to wind changes. These findings imply that representing eddy saturation in global models requires adequate resolution of the ACC’s standing meanders, with wind-responsive parameterizations of the transient eddies being of secondary importance.

Restricted access