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William K. Dewar, Ya Hsueh, Trevor J. McDougall, and Dongliang Yuan

Abstract

Many state-of-the-art numerical ocean models calculate pressure using the hydrostatic balance, or an equation derived from it. The proper form of this deceptively simple-looking equation, ∂p/∂z = −(S, T, p) (where notation is standard), is nonlinear in the pressure p. In contrast, most numerical models solve the linear equation ∂p/∂z = −(S, T, z). This modification essentially replaces the total pressure, which includes a time-dependent signal, with an approximate time-independent pressure associated with the depth of a model grid point. In this paper, the authors argue that the inclusion of the total pressure when solving the hydrostatic equation can generate a depth-dependent baroclinic pressure gradient equivalent to a geostrophic velocity of several centimeters per second. Further, this effective velocity can increase with depth and is largest in dynamically important areas like western boundary currents. These points suggest that the full feedback of pressure on density should be included in numerical models. Examples of the effect using oceanic data and output from a typical primitive equation model run are discussed. Finally, algorithms for both rigid-lid and free surface models that explicitly include full pressure are derived, and some related numerical issues are discussed.

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Ya Yang, Xiang Li, Jing Wang, and Dongliang Yuan

Abstract

The North Equatorial Subsurface Current (NESC) is a subthermocline ocean current uncovered recently in the tropical Pacific Ocean, flowing westward below the North Equatorial Countercurrent. In this study, the dynamics of the seasonal cycle of this current are studied using historical shipboard acoustic Doppler current profiler measurements and Argo absolute geostrophic currents. Both data show a westward current at the depths of 200–1000 m between 4° and 6°N, with a typical core speed of about 5 and 2 cm s−1, respectively. The subsurface current originates in the eastern Pacific, with its core descending to deeper isopycnal surfaces and moving to the equator as it flows westward. The zonal velocity of the NESC shows pronounced seasonal variability, with the annual-cycle harmonics of vertical isothermal displacement and zonal velocity presenting characters of vertically propagating baroclinic Rossby waves. A simple analytical Rossby wave model is employed to simulate the propagation of the seasonal variations of the westward zonal currents successfully, which is the basis for exploring the wind forcing dynamics. The results suggest that the wind curl forcing in the central-eastern basin between 170° and 140°W associated with the meridional movement of the intertropical convergence zone dominates the NESC seasonal variability in the western Pacific, with the winds west of 170°W and east of 140°W playing a minor role in the forcing.

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Hui Zhou, Dongliang Yuan, Lina Yang, Xiang Li, and William Dewar

Abstract

The meridional geostrophic transport (MGT) in the interior tropical North Pacific Ocean is estimated based on global ocean heat and salt content data. The decadal variations of the zonally and vertically integrated MGT in the tropical North Pacific Ocean are found to precede the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) by 1–3 years. The dynamics of the MGT are analyzed based on Sverdrup theory. It is found that the total meridional transport variability (MGT plus Ekman) is dominated by the MGT variability having positive correlations with the PDO index. The Sverdrup transports differ from the total meridional transport significantly and have insignificant correlations with PDO index, suggesting that the MGT variability is not controlled by the Sverdrup dynamics. In comparison, the simulated meridional transport variability in the models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) and the Ocean General Circulation Model for the Earth Simulator are dominated by the Sverdrup transports, having insignificant correlations with the simulated PDO indices. The comparison suggests that the non-Sverdrup component in the MGT is important for the predictability of PDO and that significant deficiencies exist in these models in simulating a realistic structure of the tropical ocean gyre variability and predicting the decadal climate variations associated with it.

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Dongliang Yuan, Zhichun Zhang, Peter C. Chu, and William K. Dewar

Abstract

Absolute geostrophic currents in the North Pacific Ocean are calculated from the newly gridded Argo profiling float data using the P-vector method for the period of 2004–11. The zonal geostrophic currents based on the Argo profile data are found to be stronger than those based on the traditional World Ocean Atlas 2009 (WOA09) data. A westward mean geostrophic flow underneath the North Equatorial Countercurrent is identified using the Argo data, which is evidenced by sporadic direct current measurements and geostrophic calculations in history. This current originates east of the date line and transports more than 4 × 106 m3 s−1 of water westward in the subsurface northwestern tropical Pacific Ocean. The authors name this current the North Equatorial Subsurface Current. The transport in the geostrophic currents is compared with the Sverdrup theory and found to differ significantly in several locations. Analyses have shown that errors of wind stress estimation cannot account for all of the differences. The largest differences are found in the area immediately north and south of the bifurcation latitude of the North Equatorial Current west of the date line and in the recirculation area of the Kuroshio and its extension, where nonlinear activities are vigorous. It is, therefore, suggested that the linear dynamics of the Sverdrup theory is deficient in explaining the geostrophic transport of the tropical northwestern Pacific Ocean.

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Weiqing Han, Peter J. Webster, Jia-Lin Lin, W. T. Liu, Rong Fu, Dongliang Yuan, and Aixue Hu

Abstract

Satellite and in situ observations in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean during 2002–03 show dominant spectral peaks at 40–60 days and secondary peaks at 10–40 days in sea level and thermocline within the intraseasonal period band (10–80 days). A detailed investigation of the dynamics of the intraseasonal variations is carried out using an ocean general circulation model, namely, the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM). Two parallel experiments are performed in the tropical Atlantic Ocean basin for the period 2000–03: one is forced by daily scatterometer winds from the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) satellite together with other forcing fields, and the other is forced by the low-passed 80-day version of the above fields. To help in understanding the role played by the wind-driven equatorial waves, a linear continuously stratified ocean model is also used.

Within 3°S–3°N of the equatorial region, the strong 40–60-day sea surface height anomaly (SSHA) and thermocline variability result mainly from the first and second baroclinic modes equatorial Kelvin waves that are forced by intraseasonal zonal winds, with the second baroclinic mode playing a more important role. Sharp 40–50-day peaks of zonal and meridional winds appear in both the QuikSCAT and Pilot Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA) data for the period 2002–03, and they are especially strong in 2002. Zonal wind anomaly in the central-western equatorial basin for the period 2000–06 is significantly correlated with SSHA across the equatorial basin, with simultaneous/lag correlation ranging from −0.62 to 0.74 above 95% significance. Away from the equator (3°–5°N), however, sea level and thermocline variations in the 40–60-day band are caused largely by tropical instability waves (TIWs).

On 10–40-day time scales and west of 10°W, the spectral power of sea level and thermocline appears to be dominated by TIWs within 5°S–5°N of the equatorial region. The wind-driven circulation, however, also provides a significant contribution. Interestingly, east of 10°W, SSHA and thermocline variations at 10–40-day periods result almost entirely from wind-driven equatorial waves. During the boreal spring of 2002 when TIWs are weak, Kelvin waves dominate the SSHA across the equatorial basin (2°S–2°N). The observed quasi-biweekly Yanai waves are excited mainly by the quasi-biweekly meridional winds, and they contribute significantly to the SSHA and thermocline variations in 1°–5°N and 1°–5°S regions.

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Dongliang Yuan, Jing Wang, Tengfei Xu, Peng Xu, Zhou Hui, Xia Zhao, Yihua Luan, Weipeng Zheng, and Yongqiang Yu

Abstract

Controlled numerical experiments using ocean-only and ocean–atmosphere coupled general circulation models show that interannual sea level depression in the eastern Indian Ocean during the Indian Ocean dipole (IOD) events forces enhanced Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) to transport warm water from the upper-equatorial Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. The enhanced transport produces elevation of the thermocline and cold subsurface temperature anomalies in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean, which propagate to the eastern equatorial Pacific to induce significant coupled evolution of the tropical Pacific oceanic and atmospheric circulation. Analyses suggest that the IOD-forced ITF transport anomalies are about the same amplitudes as those induced by the Pacific ENSO. Results of the coupled model experiments suggest that the anomalies induced by the IOD persist in the equatorial Pacific until the year following the IOD event, suggesting the importance of the oceanic channel in modulating the interannual climate variations of the tropical Pacific Ocean at the time lag beyond one year.

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Dunxin Hu, Shijian Hu, Lixin Wu, Lei Li, Linlin Zhang, Xinyuan Diao, Zhaohui Chen, Yuanlong Li, Fan Wang, and Dongliang Yuan

Abstract

The Luzon Undercurrent (LUC) was discovered about 20 years ago by geostrophic calculation from conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) data. But it was not directly measured until 2010. From November 2010 to July 2011, the LUC was first directly measured by acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) from a subsurface mooring at 18.0°N, 122.7°E to the east of Luzon Island. A number of new features of the LUC were identified from the measurements of the current. Its depth covers a range from 400 m to deeper than 700 m. The observed maximum velocity of the LUC, centered at about 650 m, could exceed 27.5 cm s−1, four times stronger than the one derived from previous geostrophic calculation with hydrographic data. According to the time series available, the seasonality of the LUC strength is in winter > summer > spring. Significant intraseasonal variability (ISV; 70–80 days) of the LUC is exposed. Evidence exists to suggest that a large portion of the intraseasonal variability in the LUC is related to the westward propagation of mesoscale eddies from the east of the mooring site.

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Xiang Li, Dongliang Yuan, Zheng Wang, Yao Li, Corry Corvianawatie, Dewi Surinati, Asep Sandra, Ahmad Bayhaqi, Praditya Avianto, Edi Kusmanto, Dirham Dirhamsyah, and Zainal Arifin

Abstract

The ocean currents in the Halmahera Sea are studied using a subsurface mooring deployed in the Jailolo Strait from November 2015 to October 2017. The subtidal currents of the mooring measurements are characterized by a two-layer system, with the current variability below about 200 m in opposite phases to that in the upper layer. The mean along-strait velocity (ASV) is toward the Indonesian seas in the whole water column, producing an estimated mean transport of 2.44 ± 0.42 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). The errors of the transport calculation based on the single mooring measurements are estimated to be less than 15% using simulations of high-resolution ocean models. A weak current is observed to flow northward during 2017 at the bottom of the strait. The ASV variability is found to be dominated by an annual cycle both in the upper and lower layers. The total transport, however, is dominated by semiannual variability because of the cancelation of the annual transports in the upper and lower layers. The variability of the transport is suggested to be driven by the pressure difference between the Pacific Ocean and the Indonesian seas, as evidenced by the agreement between the satellite pressure gradient and the two-layer transports. The transport of the Jailolo Strait during the 2015/16 super El Niño is found to be nearly the same as that during the 2016 La Niña, suggesting that the interannual variability of the transport is much smaller than the seasonal cycle.

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Shuwen Tan, Larry J. Pratt, Dongliang Yuan, Xiang Li, Zheng Wang, Yao Li, Corry Corvianawatie, Dewi Surinati, Asep S. Budiman, and Ahmad Bayhaqi

Abstract

Hydrographic measurements recently acquired along the thalweg of the Lifamatola Passage combined with historical moored velocity measurements immediately downstream of the sill are used to study the hydraulics, transport, mixing, and entrainment in the dense overflow. The observations suggest that the mean overflow is nearly critical at the mooring site, suggesting that a weir formula may be appropriate for estimating the overflow transport. Our assessment suggests that the weir formulas corresponding to a rectangular, triangular, or parabolic cross section all result in transports very close to the observation, suggesting their potential usage in long-term monitoring of the overflow transport or parameterizing the transport in numerical models. Analyses also suggest that deep signals within the overflow layer are blocked by the shear flow from propagating upstream, whereas the shallow wave modes of the full-depth continuously stratified flow are able to propagate upstream from the Banda Sea into the Maluku Sea. Strong mixing is found immediately downstream of the sill crest, with Thorpe-scale-based estimates of the mean dissipation rate within the overflow up to 1.1 × 10−7 W kg−1 and the region-averaged diapycnal diffusivity within the downstream overflow in the range of 2.3 × 10−3 to 10.1 × 10−3 m2 s−1. Mixing in the Lifamatola Passage results in 0.6–1.2-Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) entrainment transport added to the overflow, enhancing the deep-water renewal in the Banda Sea. A bulk diffusivity coefficient estimated in the deep Banda Sea yields 1.6 × 10−3 ± 5 × 10−4 m2 s−1, with an associated downward turbulent heat flux of 9 W m−2.

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Xiang Li, Dongliang Yuan, Yao Li, Zheng Wang, Jing Wang, Xiaoyue Hu, Ya Yang, Corry Corvianawatie, Dewi Surinati, Asep Sandra Budiman, Ahmad Bayhaqi, Praditya Avianto, Edi Kusmanto, Priyadi Dwi Santoso, Adi Purwandana, Mochamad Furqon Azis Ismail, Dirhamsyah, and Zainal Arifin

Abstract

The currents and water mass properties at the Pacific entrance of the Indonesian seas are studied using measurements of three subsurface moorings deployed between the Talaud and Halmahera Islands. The moored current meter data show northeastward mean currents toward the Pacific Ocean in the upper 400 m during the nearly 2-yr mooring period, with the maximum velocity in the northern part of the channel. The mean transport between 60- and 300-m depths is estimated to be 10.1–13.2 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) during 2016–17, when all three moorings have measurements. The variability of the along-channel velocity is dominated by low-frequency signals (periods > 150 days), with northeastward variations in boreal winter and southwestward variations in summer in the superposition of the annual and semiannual harmonics. The current variations evidence the seasonal movement of the Mindanao Current retroflection, which is supported by satellite sea level and ocean color data, showing a cyclonic intrusion into the northern Maluku Sea in boreal winter whereas a leaping path occurs north of the Talaud Islands in summer. During Apri–July, the moored CTDs near 200 m show southwestward currents carrying the salty South Pacific Tropical Water into the Maluku Sea.

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