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Qian Li
,
Matthew H. England
, and
Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

The Southern Ocean has undergone significant climate-related changes over recent decades, including intensified westerly winds and increased radiative heating. The interplay between wind-driven cooling and radiative warming of the ocean is complex and remains unresolved. In this study, idealized wind and thermal perturbations are analyzed in a global ocean–sea ice model at two horizontal resolutions: nominally, 1° and 0.1°. The sea surface temperature (SST) response shows a clear transition from a wind-driven cooling phase to a warming phase. This warming transition is largely attributed to meridional and vertical Ekman heat advection, which are both sensitive to model resolution due to the model-dependent components of temperature gradients. At higher model resolution, due to a more accurate representation of near-surface vertical temperature inversion and upward Ekman heat advection around Antarctica, the anomalous SST warming is stronger and develops earlier. The mixed layer depth at midlatitudes initially increases due to a wind-driven increase in Ekman transport of cold dense surface water northward, but then decreases when the thermal forcing drives enhanced surface stratification; both responses are more sensitive at lower model resolution. With the wind intensification, the residual overturning circulation increases less in the 0.1° case because of the adequately resolved eddy compensation. Ocean heat subduction penetrates along more tilted isopycnals in the 1° case, but it orients to follow isopycnal layers in the 0.1° case. These findings have implications for understanding the ocean response to the combined effects of Southern Hemisphere westerly wind changes and anthropogenic warming.

Free access
Ruth Moorman
,
Adele K. Morrison
, and
Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

The response of near-Antarctic waters to freshening by increased glacial melt is investigated using a high-resolution (0.1°) global ocean–sea ice model with realistic Antarctic water-mass properties. Two meltwater perturbation experiments are conducted where the ocean model is forced with constant elevated glacial melt rates of 1.5 and 2.8 times the control rate. Within 10 years of the onset of enhanced meltwater forcing, the generation of Antarctic Bottom Water from Dense Shelf Water ceases, as shelf waters become increasingly buoyant. Increased ocean stratification triggers subsurface warming in Dense Shelf Water source regions, suggesting a localized positive feedback to melt. In a parallel response, meltwater forcing enhances the subsurface lateral density gradients of the Antarctic Slope Front that modulate the transport of warm Circumpolar Deep Water across the continental slope toward ice shelf grounding lines. Consequently, coastal freshening acts to isolate the Antarctic Ice Sheet from open ocean heat, suggesting a cooling response to melt that counteracts warming associated with stratification. Further, these strengthening density gradients accelerate westward geostrophic currents along the coast and shelf break, homogenizing shelf waters and amplifying remote feedbacks. The net effect on the continental shelf is transient warming, followed by cooling in both experiments; however, this signal is the aggregate of a complex pattern of regional warming and cooling responses. These results suggest coastal freshening by meltwater may alter the thermal forcing of the Antarctic ice sheet in ways that both accelerate and inhibit ice shelf melt at different locations along the Antarctic coastline.

Free access
Andrew McC. Hogg
,
Henk A. Dijkstra
, and
Juan A. Saenz

Abstract

A well-studied example of natural climate variability is the impact of large freshwater input to the polar oceans, simulating glacial melt release or an amplification of the hydrological cycle. Such forcing can reduce, or entirely eliminate, the formation of deep water in the polar latitudes and thereby weaken the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC). This study uses a series of idealized, eddy-permitting numerical simulations to analyze the energetic constraints on the Atlantic Ocean's response to anomalous freshwater forcing. In this model, the changes in MOC are not correlated with the global input of mechanical energy: both kinetic energy and available potential energy (APE) increase with northern freshwater forcing, while the MOC decreases. However, a regional analysis of APE density supports the notion that local maxima in APE density control the response of the MOC to freshwater forcing perturbations. A coupling between APE input and changes in local density anomalies accounts for the difference in time scales between the recovery and collapse of the MOC.

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Edward W. Doddridge
,
David P. Marshall
, and
Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

The presence of large-scale Ekman pumping associated with the climatological wind stress curl is the textbook explanation for low biological activity in the subtropical gyres. Using an idealized, eddy-resolving model, it is shown that Eulerian-mean Ekman pumping may be opposed by an eddy-driven circulation, analogous to the way in which the atmospheric Ferrel cell and the Southern Ocean Deacon cell are opposed by eddy-driven circulations. Lagrangian particle tracking, potential vorticity fluxes, and depth–density streamfunctions are used to show that, in the model, the rectified effect of eddies acts to largely cancel the Eulerian-mean Ekman downwelling. To distinguish this effect from eddy compensation, it is proposed that the suppression of Eulerian-mean downwelling by eddies be called “eddy cancellation.”

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Adele K. Morrison
,
Matthew H. England
, and
Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

This study explores how buoyancy-driven modulations in the abyssal overturning circulation affect Southern Ocean temperature and salinity in an eddy-permitting ocean model. Consistent with previous studies, the modeled surface ocean south of 50°S cools and freshens in response to enhanced surface freshwater fluxes. Paradoxically, upper-ocean cooling also occurs for small increases in the surface relaxation temperature. In both cases, the surface cooling and freshening trends are linked to reduced convection and a slowing of the abyssal overturning circulation, with associated changes in oceanic transport of heat and salt. For small perturbations, convective shutdown does not begin immediately, but instead develops via a slow feedback between the weakened overturning circulation and buoyancy anomalies. Two distinct phases of surface cooling are found: an initial smaller trend associated with the advective (overturning) adjustment of up to ~60 yr, followed by more rapid surface cooling during the convective shutdown period. The duration of the first advective phase decreases for larger forcing perturbations. As may be expected during the convective shutdown phase, the deep ocean warms and salinifies for both types of buoyancy perturbation. However, during the advective phase, the deep ocean freshens in response to freshwater perturbations but salinifies in the surface warming perturbations. The magnitudes of the modeled surface and abyssal trends during the advective phase are comparable to the recent observed multidecadal Southern Ocean temperature and salinity changes.

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Paige E. Martin
,
Brian K. Arbic
, and
Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

Ocean–atmosphere coupling modifies the variability of Earth’s climate over a wide range of time scales. However, attribution of the processes that generate this variability remains an outstanding problem. In this article, air–sea coupling is investigated in an eddy-resolving, medium-complexity, idealized ocean–atmosphere model. The model is run in three configurations: fully coupled, partially coupled (where the effect of the ocean geostrophic velocity on the sea surface temperature field is minimal), and atmosphere-only. A surface boundary layer temperature variance budget analysis computed in the frequency domain is shown to be a powerful tool for studying air–sea interactions, as it differentiates the relative contributions to the variability in the temperature field from each process across a range of time scales (from daily to multidecadal). This method compares terms in the ocean and atmosphere across the different model configurations to infer the underlying mechanisms driving temperature variability. Horizontal advection plays a dominant role in driving temperature variance in both the ocean and the atmosphere, particularly at time scales shorter than annual. At longer time scales, the temperature variance is dominated by strong coupling between atmosphere and ocean. Furthermore, the Ekman transport contribution to the ocean’s horizontal advection is found to underlie the low-frequency behavior in the atmosphere. The ocean geostrophic eddy field is an important driver of ocean variability across all frequencies and is reflected in the atmospheric variability in the western boundary current separation region at longer time scales.

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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.

Free access
Wilma G. C. Huneke
,
Adele K. Morrison
, and
Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

The Antarctic Slope Current (ASC) circumnavigates the Antarctic continent following the continental slope and separating the waters on the continental shelf from the deeper offshore Southern Ocean. Water mass exchanges across the continental slope are critical for the global climate as they impact the global overturning circulation and the mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet via basal melting. Despite the ASC’s global importance, little is known about its spatial and subannual variability, as direct measurements of the velocity field are sparse. Here, we describe the ASC in a global eddying ocean–sea ice model and reveal its large-scale spatial variability by characterizing the continental slope using three regimes: the surface-intensified ASC, the bottom-intensified ASC, and the reversed ASC. Each ASC regime corresponds to a distinct classification of the density field as previously introduced in the literature, suggesting that the velocity and density fields are governed by the same leading-order dynamics around the Antarctic continental slope. Only the surface-intensified ASC regime has a strong seasonality. However, large temporal variability at a range of other time scales occurs across all regimes, including frequent reversals of the current. We anticipate our description of the ASC’s spatial and subannual variability will be helpful to guide future studies of the ASC aiming to advance our understanding of the region’s response to a changing climate.

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Carlyn R. Schmidgall
,
Yidongfang Si
,
Andrew L. Stewart
,
Andrew F. Thompson
, and
Andrew McC. Hogg

Abstract

The export of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) supplies the bottom cell of the global overturning circulation and plays a key role in regulating climate. This AABW outflow must cross, and is therefore mediated by, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Previous studies present widely varying conceptions of the role of the ACC in directing AABW across the Southern Ocean, suggesting either that AABW may be zonally recirculated by the ACC, or that AABW may flow northward within deep western boundary currents (DWBC) against bathymetry. In this study the authors investigate how the forcing and geometry of the ACC influences the transport and transformation of AABW using a suite of process-oriented model simulations. The model exhibits a strong dependence on the elevation of bathymetry relative to AABW layer thickness: higher meridional ridges suppress zonal AABW exchange, increase the strength of flow in the DWBC, and reduce the meridional variation in AABW density across the ACC. Furthermore, the transport and transformation vary with density within the AABW layer, with denser varieties of AABW being less efficiently transported between basins. These findings indicate that changes in the thickness of the AABW layer, for example, due to changes in Antarctic shelf processes, and tectonic changes in the sea floor shape may alter the pathways and transformation of AABW across the ACC.

Significance Statement

The ocean plays an outsized role in the movement of heat and trace gases around Earth, and the northward export of dense Antarctic Bottom Water is a crucial component of this climate-regulating process. This study aims to understand what sets the pathways of Antarctic Bottom Water as it travels northward across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and thus what controls its partitioning between the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific basins. Our results highlight the importance of seafloor elevation relative to the thickness of the Antarctic Bottom Water layer for directing the flow northward versus between basins. This study motivates future investigation of long-term changes in Antarctic Bottom Water properties and their consequences for its global distribution.

Restricted access
Emma Howard
,
Andrew McC. Hogg
,
Stephanie Waterman
, and
David P. Marshall

Abstract

An overturning circulation, driven by prescribed buoyancy forcing, is used to set a zonal volume transport in a reentrant channel ocean model with three isopycnal layers. The channel is designed to represent the Southern Ocean such that the forced overturning resembles the lower limb of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC). The relative contributions of wind and buoyancy forcing to the zonal circulation are examined. It is found that the zonal volume transport is strongly dependent on the buoyancy forcing and that the eddy kinetic energy is primarily set by wind stress forcing. The zonal momentum budget integrated over each layer is considered in the buoyancy-forced, wind-forced, and combined forcing case. At equilibrium, sources and sinks of momentum are balanced, but the transient spinup reveals the source of momentum for the current. In the buoyancy-forced case, the forcing creates a baroclinic shear with westward flow in the lower layer, allowing topographic form stress and bottom friction to act as the initial sources of eastward momentum, with bottom friction acting over a longer time frame. In the wind-forced and combined forcing cases, the surface wind stress dominates the initial momentum budget, and the time to reach equilibration is shorter in the combined forcing simulation. These results imply that future changes in the rate of formation of Antarctic Bottom Water may alter the volume transport of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

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