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  • Author or Editor: Allan R. Robinson x
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Allan R. Robinson
,
Michael A. Spall
, and
Nadia Pinardi

Abstract

We present here a regional, eddy resolving, numerical study of the dynamics of Gulf Stream Meander and Ring (GSMR) interaction processes. We initialize the Harvard quasi-geostrophic open-boundary model with realistic meander and ring locations as indicated by remotely sensed sea surface temperature (SST) data and predict the flow evolution for the period 23 November to 19 December 1984. The methodology of Feature-Model initialization is introduced to extend the surface information to the thermocline and deep levels in terms of climatological structures, which are then dynamically adjusted by the model. Six numerical simulators are carried out to explore the influence of initial and boundary conditions on the flow evolution. All of the major events observed in the SST data are simulated, including the birth of new warm and cold core rings. The results show the relevance of quasi-geostrophic dynamics for the GSMR region on these time scales in the thermocline. A set of parameter and sensitivity experiments then elucidate the dependence on physical parameters; ring births are nonlinear baroclinic processes. The dynamics of these realistic cold and warm core formation events are quantified via local energy and vorticity budget analyses (EVA). The cold core case involves a process of nonlinear baroclinic cascades that convert available gravitational energy to kinetic energy and vice versa. The warm core case involves a differential horizontal advection process.

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Michele M. Rienecker
,
Christopher N. K. Mooers
, and
Allan R. Robinson

Abstract

The series of cruises off Northern California comprising OPTOMA11, during two months in summer 1984, were specifically designed as an ocean prediction experiment. In addition to a regional survey from Cape Mendocino to Monterey, six surveys were made of a (150 km)2 domain offshore of Pt. Arena/Pt. Arena/Pt. Reyes. During the initial phase (over about ten days) of OPTOMA11, an intense (speeds up to 50 cm s−1, relative to 450 m) jet/cyclone system propagated offshore at about 5 km day−1. The subsequent evolution (over about 40 days) of the streamfunction field was governed by the meandering of the jet and the associated changes in the intensity of the anticyclonic region to the north of the jet and the cyclonic region to the south. From quasi-geostrophic (QG) model hindcast experiments using the streamfunction data, wind stress curl was an important forcing mechanism in the later phase of the experiment. Forecast in a domain extending over the continental slope were in agreement with objective analyses (OA) in the upper water column when the local topographic slope was used in the model. Asynopticity in initialization data (in this case, data acquired over eight days) did not seriously degree forecasts, although forecasts which used synoptic estimates (via a time-dependent objective analysis) of initial and boundary data were more accurate. The repetition in sampling allowed estimation of a space-time covariance function which was used for statistical forecasts. Quasi-geostrophic dynamical forecasts, generated using statistically forecast boundary data, evolved consistent with the OA in the interior of the forecast domain (rms difference 56% after 16 days). Assimilation of truly synoptic data, in the interior of the forecast domain as well as on the boundaries, improved the forecast so that it gave a better estimate of the streamfunction field than the OA (rms difference from the best field estimate was 20% after 16 days). Energetics analyses, based on-best estimates of the streamfunction and vorticity fields obtained by dynamical interpolation, indicate that the cyclonic region to the south of the jet grew due to baroclinic instability. The inclusion of wind stress curl forcing was essential to the interpretation of the energetics.

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Allan R. Robinson
,
James A. Carton
,
Nadia Pinardi
, and
Christopher N. K. Mooers

Abstract

In order to perform real-time dynamical forecasts and hindcasts, three high-resolution hydrographic surveys were made of a (150 km)2 domain off northern California, providing two sets of initialization and verification fields. The data was objectively analyzed and regularly gridded for model compatibility. These maps initially show an anticyclonic eddy segment in the northeast and part of another in the northwest. Two weeks later only the northwest anticyclonic eddy remained, with the domain center dominated by a 0.6 m s−1 jet. Two weeks after that only a larger northwest eddy with fairly weak velocities remained. Numerical forecasts with persistent boundary conditions and forecast experiments with boundary conditions linearly interpolated between surveys were performed. The real-time forecast successfully predicted the formation of the zonal jet prior to its observation. Dynamical interpolation shows unambiguously that the two anticyclonic eddies have merged and formed a single eddy. Even the forecast with incorrect boundary conditions demonstrates the internal dynamical processes involved in the merger event.

Two examples are given of four-dimensional data assimilation: direct insertion and a backward-forward combination technique. These results justify the use of the dynamical forecasts as synoptic time series. Parameter sensitivity experiments were performed to determine the sensitivity of the model to physical parameters such as stratification, to explore the dynamical balance, and to choose a reference level. The dynamics were found to be controlled by horizontal nonlinear interactions. A reference level of 1550 m was chosen. A set of energy and vorticity equations, consistent with quasi-geostrophic dynamics, were evaluated term by term for the forecast experiments. The evolutions of the streamfunction and vorticity fields are shown to be a three-phase (merging, expanding, and relaxation) process. Available gravitational energy increases due to buoyancy work; the merger event is interpreted as a finite amplitude barotropic instability process.

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Arthur J. Miller
,
Pierre-Marie Poulain
,
Alex Warn-Varnas
,
Hernan G. Arango
,
Allan R. Robinson
, and
Wayne G. Leslie

Abstract

Using a hydrocast survey of the Iceland-Faroe Front (IFF) from October 1992, quasigeostrophic forecasts are studied to validate their efficacy and to diagnose the physical processes involved in the rapid growth of a cold tongue intrusion. Explorations of 1) the choice of initial objective analysis parameters, 2) the depth of the unknown level of no motion, 3) the effects of surrounding mesoscale activity, 4) variations in the boundary conditions, and 5) simple assimilation of newly acquired data into the forecasts are carried out.

Using a feature validation technique, which incorporates a 1) validating hydrocast survey, 2) satellite SST images, and 3) surface drifter observations, most of the forecasts are found to perform well in capturing the key events of the validation strategy, particularly the development of the cold tongue intrusion (though it tends to develop somewhat more weakly and slightly farther downstream than observed). Sharp resolution of frontal structure (to capture seed anomalies in the IFF, which later can grow to large amplitude) and smooth representation of far-field boundary conditions (to eliminate spurious persistent inflow/outflow at the boundaries, which can corrupt developing interior flows) are found to be crucial in generating good forecasts.

An analysis of the potential and kinetic energy equations in the region of the developing cold tongue intrusion reveals a clear signature of baroclinic instability. Topography has little influence on this particular instability event because it tends to be surface intensified and occurs rapidly over a timescale of 3–5 days.

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