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Qianwen Hu, Xiaodong Huang, Qinbo Xu, Chun Zhou, Shoude Guan, Xing Xu, Wei Zhao, Qingxuan Yang, and Jiwei Tian

Abstract

Internal waves close to the seafloor of abyssal oceans are the key energy suppliers driving near-bottom mixing and the upwelling branches of meridional overturning circulation, but their spatiotemporal variability and intrinsic mechanisms remain largely unclear. In this study, measurements from 10 long-term moorings were used to investigate the internal wave activities in the abyssal South China Sea, which is an important upwelling zone. Strong near-inertial internal waves (NIWs) with current velocity pulses exceeding 5 cm s−1 were observed to dominate the near-bottom internal wave field at approximately 14°N. These abyssal NIWs were phase-coupled with diurnal internal tides (D1), and both displayed common seasonal variations that were larger in winter and summer, providing evidence of diurnal parametric subharmonic instability (PSI) near its critical latitudes (CLs). Emitted from the bottom, near-inertial kinetic energy rapidly decreased by one order of magnitude from depths of ~120 m to ~620 m above the bottom. Near rough topographies, the abyssal PSI was shifted poleward to approximately 14.8°N by negative relative vorticities of passing anticyclonic eddies or topographic Rossby waves. Compared with flat topography, PSI near rough topography was significantly promoted by topographic-localized strong D1 with high-mode structures, creating abyssal NIW bursts. Bottom-reaching shipboard conductivity-temperature-depth profiles revealed that the bottom mixed layers became much thicker when approaching CLs, suggesting that abyssal PSI potentially accelerates the ventilation and upwelling of bottom water. The observational results presented here illustrate notable spatiotemporal variations in abyssal NIWs regulated by PSI and call for consideration of PSI to better understand near-bottom mixing and upwelling.

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Alexander B. Rabinovich, Jadranka Šepić, and Richard E. Thomson

Abstract

From 12 to 16 October 2016, a series of three major low-pressure systems, including the tail-end of Typhoon Songda, crossed the coasts of British Columbia (BC) and Washington State (WA). Songda was generated on 2 October and, after travelling northward along the coast of Japan, turned eastward toward North America. Once there, it merged with two extratropical cyclones moving along the coast of Vancouver Island. The combined lows generated pronounced storm surges, seiches and infragravity waves off southern BC and northern WA. Here, we examine the event in terms of sea levels measured by tide gauges and offshore bottom pressure recorders, together with high-altitude meteorological data, reanalysis data, and high-resolution air pressure and wind measurements from 182 meteorological stations. Surge heights during the event typically exceeded 80 cm, with maximum heights of over 100 cm observed at La Push (WA) and New Westminster (BC). At Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, there was a sharp 40-cm increase in sea level on 14 October in response to a marked air pressure disturbance; slightly lower sea level peaks were also observed at other outer coast locations. In all cases, the sea level response was 1.5-2.5 times greater than that expected from the inverted barometer effect, consistent with local topographic amplification. The sea level oscillations at Tofino had the form of a forced solitary wave (“meteorological tsunami”), whereas those on the southwestern shelf off Vancouver Island are well described by classical standing-wave theory. A numerical model closely reproduces the observed meteotsunami peaks and standing wave oscillations.

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Yuval Yevnin and Yaron Toledo

Abstract

The paper presents a combined numerical–deep learning (DL) approach for improving wind and wave forecasting. First, a DL model is trained to improve wind velocity forecasts by using past reanalysis data. The improved wind forecasts are used as forcing in a numerical wave forecasting model. This novel approach, used to combine physics-based and data-driven models, was tested over the Mediterranean. The correction to the wind forecast resulted in ∼10% RMSE improvement in both wind velocity and wave height over reanalysis data. This significant improvement is even more substantial at the Aegean Sea when Etesian winds are dominant, improving wave height forecasts by over 35%. The additional computational costs of the DL model are negligible compared to the costs of either the atmospheric or wave numerical model by itself. This work has the potential to greatly improve the wind and wave forecasting models used nowadays by tailoring models to localized seasonal conditions, at negligible additional computational costs.

Significance Statement

Wind and wave forecasting models solve a set of complicated physical equations. Improving forecasting accuracy is usually achieved by using a higher-resolution, empirical coefficients calibration or better physical formulations. However, measurements are rarely used directly to achieve better forecasts, as their assimilation can prove difficult. The presented work bridges this gap by using a data-driven deep learning model to improve wind forecasting accuracy, and the resulting wave forecasting. Testing over the Mediterranean Sea resulted in ∼10% RMSE improvement. Inspecting the Aegean Sea when the Etesian wind is dominant shows an outstanding 35% improvement. This approach has the potential to improve the operational atmospheric and wave forecasting models used nowadays by tailoring models to localized seasonal conditions, at negligible computational costs.

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Lei Liu and Huijie Xue

Abstract

Observational surface data are utilized to reconstruct the subsurface density and geostrophic velocity fields via the “interior + surface quasigeostrophic” (isQG) method in a subdomain of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). The input variables include the satellite-derived sea surface height (SSH), satellite-derived sea surface temperature (SST), satellite-derived or Argo-based sea surface salinity (SSS), and a monthly estimate of the stratification. The density reconstruction is assessed against a newly released high-resolution in situ dataset that is collected by a southern elephant seal. The results show that the observed mesoscale structures are reasonably reconstructed. In the Argo-SSS-based experiment, pattern correlations between the reconstructed and observed density mostly exceed 0.8 in the upper 300 m. Uncertainties in the SSS products notably influence the isQG performance, and the Argo-SSS-based experiment yields better density reconstruction than the satellite-SSS-based one. Through the two-dimensional (2D) omega equation, we further employ the isQG reconstructions to diagnose the upper-ocean vertical velocities (denoted w isQG2D), which are then compared against the seal-data-based 2D diagnosis of w seal. Notable discrepancies are found between w isQG2D and w seal, primarily because the density reconstruction does not capture the seal-observed smaller-scale signals. Within several subtransects, the Argo-SSS-based w isQG2D reasonably reproduce the spatial structures of w seal, but present smaller magnitude. We also apply the isQG reconstructions to the 3D omega equation, and the 3D diagnosis of w isQG3D is very different from w isQG2D, indicating the limitations of the 2D diagnostic equation. With reduced uncertainties in satellite-derived products in the future, we expect the isQG framework to achieve better subsurface estimations.

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Delphine Hypolite, Leonel Romero, James C. McWilliams, and Daniel P. Dauhajre

Abstract

Surface gravity wave effects on currents (WEC) cause the emergence of Langmuir cells (LCs) in a suite of high horizontal resolution (Δx = 30m), realistic oceanic simulations in the open ocean of Central California. During large wave events, LCs develop widely but inhomogeneously, with larger vertical velocities in a deeper mixed layer. They interact with extant submesoscale currents. A 550m horizontal spatial filter separates the signals of LCs and of submesoscale and larger scale currents. The LCs have a strong velocity variance with small density gradient variance, while submesoscale currents are large in both. Using coarse-graining, we show that WEC induces a forward cascade of kinetic energy in the upper ocean up to at least a 5km scale. This is due to strong positive vertical Reynolds stress (in both the Eulerian and the Stokes drift energy production terms) at all resolved scales in the WEC solutions, associated with large vertical velocities. The spatial filter elucidates the role of LCs in generating the shear production on the vertical scale of Stokes drift (10m), while submesoscale currents affect both the horizontal and vertical energy fluxes throughout the mixed layer (50 – 80m). There is a slightly weaker forward cascade associated with non-hydrostatic LCs (by 13% in average) than in the hydrostatic case, but overall the simulation differences are small. A vertical mixing scheme K-Profile Parameterization partially augmented by Langmuir turbulence yields wider LCs, which can lead to lower surface velocity gradients compared to solutions using the standard KPP scheme.

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Marco Larrañaga, Lionel Renault, and Julien Jouanno

Abstract

The surface oceanic current feedback (CFB) to the atmosphere has been shown to correct long-lasting biases in the representation of ocean dynamics by providing an unambiguous energy sink mechanism. However, its effects on the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) oceanic circulation are not known. Here, twin ocean–atmosphere eddy-rich coupled simulations, with and without CFB, are performed for the period 1993–2016 over the GoM to assess to which extent CFB modulates the GoM dynamics. CFB, through the eddy killing mechanism and the associated transfer of momentum from mesoscale currents to the atmosphere, damps the mesoscale activity by roughly 20% and alters eddy statistics. We furthermore show that the Loop Current (LC) extensions can be classified into three categories: a retracted LC, a canonical LC, and an elongated LC. CFB, by damping the mesoscale activity, enhance the occurrence of the elongated category (by about 7%). Finally, by increasing the LC extension, CFB plays a key role in determining LC eddy separations and statistics. Taking into account CFB improves the representation of the GoM dynamics, and it should be taken into account in ocean models.

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Xiaoting Yang and Eli Tziperman

Abstract

The middepth ocean temperature profile was found by Munk in 1966 to agree with an exponential profile and shown to be consistent with a vertical advective–diffusive balance. However, tracer release experiments show that vertical diffusivity in the middepth ocean is an order of magnitude too small to explain the observed 1-km exponential scale. Alternative mechanisms suggested that nearly all middepth water upwells adiabatically in the Southern Ocean (SO). In this picture, SO eddies and wind set SO isopycnal slopes and therefore determine a nonvanishing middepth interior stratification even in the adiabatic limit. The effect of SO eddies on SO isopycnal slopes can be understood via either a marginal criticality condition or a near-vanishing SO residual deep overturning condition in the adiabatic limit. We examine the interplay between SO dynamics and interior mixing in setting the exponential profiles of σ 2 and ∂zσ 2. We use eddy-permitting numerical simulations, in which we artificially change the diapycnal mixing only away from the SO. We find that SO isopycnal slopes change in response to changes in the interior diapycnal mixing even when the wind forcing is constant, consistent with previous studies (that did not address these near-exponential profiles). However, in the limit of small interior mixing, the interior ∂zσ 2 profile is not exponential, suggesting that SO processes alone, in an adiabatic limit, do not lead to the observed near-exponential structures of such profiles. The results suggest that while SO wind and eddies contribute to the nonvanishing middepth interior stratification, the exponential shape of the ∂zσ 2 profiles must also involve interior diapycnal mixing.

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Jemima Rama, Callum J. Shakespeare, and Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

Wind-generated near-inertial internal waves (NIWs) are triggered in the mixed layer and propagate down into the ocean interior. Observational and numerical studies have shown the effects of background vorticity and high shear on propagating NIWs. However, the impacts of the background mean flow on NIWs as a function of the waves’ horizontal wavelength have yet to be fully investigated. Here, two distinct cases are analyzed, namely, the propagation of wind-generated, large-scale NIWs in negative vorticity and the behavior of small-scale NIWs in high shear. The propagation and energetics of the respective NIWs are investigated using a realistic eddy-resolving numerical simulation of the Kuroshio region. The large-scale NIWs display a rapid vertical propagation to depth in negative vorticity areas, while the small-scale NIWs are confined to shallower depths in high-shear regions. Furthermore, the dominant energy sources and sinks of near-inertial energy are estimated as the respective NIWs propagate into the ocean’s interior. The qualitative analysis of NIW energetics reveals that the wind triggers the generation of both the large-scale and small-scale NIWs, but the waves experience further amplification as they draw energy from the background mean flow upon propagation in negative vorticity and high-shear regions, respectively. In addition, the study demonstrates that small-scale NIWs can be induced independently by wind fluctuations and do not necessarily rely on straining nor refraction of large-scale NIWs by mesoscale motions.

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Mareike Körner, Martin Claus, Peter Brandt, and Franz Philip Tuchen

Abstract

In the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, meridional velocity variability exhibits a pronounced peak on intraseasonal time scales whereas zonal velocity dominantly varies on seasonal to interannual time scales. We focus on the intraseasonal meridional velocity variability away from the near-surface layer, its source regions, and its pathways into the deep ocean. This deep intraseasonal velocity variability plays a key role in equatorial dynamics as it is an important energy source for the deep equatorial circulation. The results are based on the output of a high-resolution ocean model revealing intraseasonal energy levels along the equator at all depths that are in good agreement with shipboard and moored velocity data. Spectral analyses reveal a pronounced signal of intraseasonal Yanai waves with westward phase velocities and zonal wavelengths longer than 450 km. Different sources and characteristics of these Yanai waves are identified: near the surface between 40° and 10°W, low-baroclinic-mode Yanai waves with periods of around 30 days are excited. These waves have a strong seasonal cycle with a maximum in August. High-frequency Yanai waves (10–20-day period) are excited at the surface east of 10°W. In the region between the North Brazil Current and the Equatorial Undercurrent, high-baroclinic-mode Yanai waves with periods between 30 and 40 days are generated. Yanai waves with longer periods (40–80 days) are shed from the deep western boundary current. The Yanai wave energy is carried along beams eastward and downward, thus explaining differences in strength, structure, and periodicity of the meridional intraseasonal variability in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean.

Significance Statement

Past studies show that intraseasonal meridional kinetic energy is important for the deep equatorial circulation (DEC). However, numerical studies use intraseasonal variability with varying characteristics to investigate the formation and maintenance of the DEC. This is partly because of sparse observations at depth that are limited to single locations. This study investigates intraseasonal meridional kinetic energy in the equatorial Atlantic in a high-resolution ocean model that is tested against available shipboard and moored observations. We analyze the spatial and temporal distribution and the baroclinic structure of intraseasonal variability. Using the model, we identify different sources and pathways of intraseasonal energy in the deep equatorial Atlantic. We offer groundwork for further studies on the formation and maintenance of the DEC.

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Haihong Guo, Michael A. Spall, Joseph Pedlosky, and Zhaohui Chen

Abstract

A three-dimensional inertial model that conserves quasigeostrophic potential vorticity is proposed for wind-driven coastal upwelling along western boundaries. The dominant response to upwelling favorable winds is a surface-intensified baroclinic meridional boundary current with a subsurface countercurrent. The width of the current is not the baroclinic deformation radius but instead scales with the inertial boundary layer thickness while the depth scales as the ratio of the inertial boundary layer thickness to the baroclinic deformation radius. Thus, the boundary current scales depend on the stratification, wind stress, Coriolis parameter, and its meridional variation. In contrast to two-dimensional wind-driven coastal upwelling, the source waters that feed the Ekman upwelling are provided over the depth scale of this baroclinic current through a combination of onshore barotropic flow and from alongshore in the narrow boundary current. Topography forces an additional current whose characteristics depend on the topographic slope and width. For topography wider than the inertial boundary layer thickness the current is bottom intensified, while for narrow topography the current is wave-like in the vertical and trapped over the topography within the inertial boundary layer. An idealized primitive equation numerical model produces a similar baroclinic boundary current whose vertical length scale agrees with the theoretical scaling for both upwelling and downwelling favorable winds.

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