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Simon P. de Szoeke
,
Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
Paquita Zuidema
, and
Arunchandra S. Chandra

Abstract

Cold pools dominate the surface temperature variability observed over the central Indian Ocean (0°, 80°E) for 2 months of research cruise observations in the Dynamics of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) experiment in October–December 2011. Cold pool fronts are identified by a rapid drop of temperature. Air in cold pools is slightly drier than the boundary layer (BL). Consistent with previous studies, cold pools attain wet-bulb potential temperatures representative of saturated downdrafts originating from the lower midtroposphere.

Wind and surface fluxes increase, and rain is most likely within the ~20-min cold pool front. Greatest integrated water vapor and liquid follow the front. Temperature and velocity fluctuations shorter than 6 min achieve 90% of the surface latent and sensible heat flux in cold pools. The temperature of the cold pools recovers in about 20 min, chiefly by mixing at the top of the shallow cold wake layer, rather than by surface flux.

Analysis of conserved variables shows mean BL air is composed of 51% air entrained from the BL top (800 m), 22% saturated downdrafts, and 27% air at equilibrium with the ocean surface. The number of cold pools, and their contribution to the BL heat and moisture, nearly doubles in the convectively active phase compared to the suppressed phase of the Madden–Julian oscillation.

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Natalie Perlin
,
Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
Roger M. Samelson
, and
Philip L. Barbour

Abstract

Air–sea coupling during coastal upwelling was examined through idealized three-dimensional numerical simulations with a coupled atmosphere–ocean mesoscale model. Geometry, topography, and initial and boundary conditions were chosen to be representative of summertime coastal conditions off the Oregon coast. Over the 72-h simulations, sea surface temperatures were reduced several degrees near the coast by a wind-driven upwelling of cold water that developed within 10–20 km off the coast. In this region, the interaction of the atmospheric boundary layer with the cold upwelled water resulted in the formation of an internal boundary layer below 100-m altitude in the inversion-capped boundary layer and a reduction of the wind stress in the coupled model to half the offshore value. Surface heat fluxes were also modified by the coupling. The simulated modification of the atmospheric boundary layer by ocean upwelling was consistent with recent moored and aircraft observations of the lower atmosphere off the Oregon coast during the upwelling season. For these 72-h simulations, comparisons of coupled and uncoupled model results showed that the coupling caused measurable differences in the upwelling circulation within 20 km off the coast. The coastal Ekman transport divergence was distributed over a wider offshore extent and a thinner ocean surface boundary layer, with consistently smaller offshore and depth-integrated alongshore transport formed in the upwelling region, in the coupled case relative to the uncoupled case. The results indicate that accurate models of coastal upwelling processes can require representations of ocean–atmosphere interactions on short temporal and horizontal scales.

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Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
W. D. Smyth
,
J. N. Moum
, and
H. Wijesekera

Abstract

The response of the upper ocean to westerly wind forcing in the western equatorial Pacific was modeled by means of large-eddy simulation for the purpose of comparison with concurrent microstructure observations. The model was initialized using currents and hydrography measured during the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (COARE) and forced using measurements of surface fluxes over a 24-h period. Comparison of turbulence statistics from the model with those estimated from concurrent measurements reveals good agreement within the mixed layer. The shortcomings of the model appear in the stratified fluid below the mixed layer, where the vertical length scales of turbulent eddies are limited by stratification and are not adequately resolved by the model. Model predictions of vertical heat and salt fluxes in the entrainment zone at the base of the mixed layer are very similar to estimates based on microstructure data.

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Natalie Perlin
,
Simon P. de Szoeke
,
Dudley B. Chelton
,
Roger M. Samelson
,
Eric D. Skyllingstad
, and
Larry W. O’Neill

Abstract

The wind speed response to mesoscale SST variability is investigated over the Agulhas Return Current region of the Southern Ocean using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and the U.S. Navy Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) atmospheric model. The SST-induced wind response is assessed from eight simulations with different subgrid-scale vertical mixing parameterizations, validated using Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) winds and satellite-based sea surface temperature (SST) observations on 0.25° grids. The satellite data produce a coupling coefficient of s U = 0.42 m s−1 °C−1 for wind to mesoscale SST perturbations. The eight model configurations produce coupling coefficients varying from 0.31 to 0.56 m s−1 °C−1. Most closely matching QuikSCAT are a WRF simulation with the Grenier–Bretherton–McCaa (GBM) boundary layer mixing scheme (s U = 0.40 m s−1 °C−1), and a COAMPS simulation with a form of Mellor–Yamada parameterization (s U = 0.38 m s−1 °C−1). Model rankings based on coupling coefficients for wind stress, or for curl and divergence of vector winds and wind stress, are similar to that based on s U . In all simulations, the atmospheric potential temperature response to local SST variations decreases gradually with height throughout the boundary layer (0–1.5 km). In contrast, the wind speed response to local SST perturbations decreases rapidly with height to near zero at 150–300 m. The simulated wind speed coupling coefficient is found to correlate well with the height-averaged turbulent eddy viscosity coefficient. The details of the vertical structure of the eddy viscosity depend on both the absolute magnitude of local SST perturbations, and the orientation of the surface wind to the SST gradient.

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Leif N. Thomas
,
Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
Luc Rainville
,
Verena Hormann
,
Luca Centurioni
,
James N. Moum
,
Olivier Asselin
, and
Craig M. Lee

Abstract

Along with boundary layer turbulence, downward radiation of near-inertial waves (NIWs) damps inertial oscillations (IOs) in the surface ocean; however, the latter can also energize abyssal mixing. Here we present observations made from a dipole vortex in the Iceland Basin where, after the period of direct wind forcing, IOs lost over half their kinetic energy (KE) in two inertial periods to radiation of NIWs with minimal turbulent dissipation of KE. The dipole’s vorticity gradient led to a rapid reduction in the NIW’s lateral wavelength via ζ refraction that was accompanied by isopycnal undulations below the surface mixed layer. Pressure anomalies associated with the undulations were correlated with the NIW’s velocity yielding an energy flux of 310 mW m−2 pointed antiparallel to the vorticity gradient and a downward flux of 1 mW m−2 capable of driving the observed drop in KE. The minimal role of turbulence in the energetics after the IOs had been generated by the winds was confirmed using a large-eddy simulation driven by the observed winds.

Significance Statement

We report direct observational estimates of the vector wave energy flux of a near-inertial wave. The energy flux points from high to low vorticity in the horizontal, consistent with the theory of ζ refraction. The downward energy flux dominates the observed damping of inertial motions over turbulent dissipation and mixing.

Open access
Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
Roger M. Samelson
,
Harper Simmons
,
Lou S. Laurent
,
Sophia Merrifield
,
Thilo Klenz
, and
Luca Centurioni

Abstract

The observed development of deep mixed layers and the dependence of intense, deep-mixing events on wind and wave conditions are studied using an ocean LES model with and without an imposed Stokes-drift wave forcing. Model results are compared to glider measurements of the ocean vertical temperature, salinity, and turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rate structure collected in the Icelandic Basin. Observed wind stress reached 0.8 N m−2 with significant wave height of 4–6 m, while boundary layer depths reached 180 m. We find that wave forcing, via the commonly used Stokes drift vortex force parameterization, is crucial for accurate prediction of boundary layer depth as characterized by measured and predicted TKE dissipation rate profiles. Analysis of the boundary layer kinetic energy (KE) budget using a modified total Lagrangian-mean energy equation, derived for the wave-averaged Boussinesq equations by requiring that the rotational inertial terms vanish identically as in the standard energy budget without Stokes forcing, suggests that wind work should be calculated using both the surface current and surface Stokes drift. A large percentage of total wind energy is transferred to model TKE via regular and Stokes drift shear production and dissipated. However, resonance by clockwise rotation of the winds can greatly enhance the generation of inertial current mean KE (MKE). Without resonance, TKE production is about 5 times greater than MKE generation, whereas with resonance this ratio decreases to roughly 2. The results have implications for the problem of estimating the global kinetic energy budget of the ocean.

Open access
James Edson
,
Timothy Crawford
,
Jerry Crescenti
,
Tom Farrar
,
Nelson Frew
,
Greg Gerbi
,
Costas Helmis
,
Tihomir Hristov
,
Djamal Khelif
,
Andrew Jessup
,
Haf Jonsson
,
Ming Li
,
Larry Mahrt
,
Wade McGillis
,
Albert Plueddemann
,
Lian Shen
,
Eric Skyllingstad
,
Tim Stanton
,
Peter Sullivan
,
Jielun Sun
,
John Trowbridge
,
Dean Vickers
,
Shouping Wang
,
Qing Wang
,
Robert Weller
,
John Wilkin
,
Albert J. Williams III
,
D. K. P. Yue
, and
Chris Zappa

The Office of Naval Research's Coupled Boundary Layers and Air–Sea Transfer (CBLAST) program is being conducted to investigate the processes that couple the marine boundary layers and govern the exchange of heat, mass, and momentum across the air–sea interface. CBLAST-LOW was designed to investigate these processes at the low-wind extreme where the processes are often driven or strongly modulated by buoyant forcing. The focus was on conditions ranging from negligible wind stress, where buoyant forcing dominates, up to wind speeds where wave breaking and Langmuir circulations play a significant role in the exchange processes. The field program provided observations from a suite of platforms deployed in the coastal ocean south of Martha's Vineyard. Highlights from the measurement campaigns include direct measurement of the momentum and heat fluxes on both sides of the air–sea interface using a specially constructed Air–Sea Interaction Tower (ASIT), and quantification of regional oceanic variability over scales of O(1–104 mm) using a mesoscale mooring array, aircraft-borne remote sensors, drifters, and ship surveys. To our knowledge, the former represents the first successful attempt to directly and simultaneously measure the heat and momentum exchange on both sides of the air–sea interface. The latter provided a 3D picture of the oceanic boundary layer during the month-long main experiment. These observations have been combined with numerical models and direct numerical and large-eddy simulations to investigate the processes that couple the atmosphere and ocean under these conditions. For example, the oceanic measurements have been used in the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) to investigate the 3D evolution of regional ocean thermal stratification. The ultimate goal of these investigations is to incorporate improved parameterizations of these processes in coupled models such as the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) to improve marine forecasts of wind, waves, and currents.

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Andrey Y. Shcherbina
,
Miles A. Sundermeyer
,
Eric Kunze
,
Eric D’Asaro
,
Gualtiero Badin
,
Daniel Birch
,
Anne-Marie E. G. Brunner-Suzuki
,
Jörn Callies
,
Brandy T. Kuebel Cervantes
,
Mariona Claret
,
Brian Concannon
,
Jeffrey Early
,
Raffaele Ferrari
,
Louis Goodman
,
Ramsey R. Harcourt
,
Jody M. Klymak
,
Craig M. Lee
,
M.-Pascale Lelong
,
Murray D. Levine
,
Ren-Chieh Lien
,
Amala Mahadevan
,
James C. McWilliams
,
M. Jeroen Molemaker
,
Sonaljit Mukherjee
,
Jonathan D. Nash
,
Tamay Özgökmen
,
Stephen D. Pierce
,
Sanjiv Ramachandran
,
Roger M. Samelson
,
Thomas B. Sanford
,
R. Kipp Shearman
,
Eric D. Skyllingstad
,
K. Shafer Smith
,
Amit Tandon
,
John R. Taylor
,
Eugene A. Terray
,
Leif N. Thomas
, and
James R. Ledwell

Abstract

Lateral stirring is a basic oceanographic phenomenon affecting the distribution of physical, chemical, and biological fields. Eddy stirring at scales on the order of 100 km (the mesoscale) is fairly well understood and explicitly represented in modern eddy-resolving numerical models of global ocean circulation. The same cannot be said for smaller-scale stirring processes. Here, the authors describe a major oceanographic field experiment aimed at observing and understanding the processes responsible for stirring at scales of 0.1–10 km. Stirring processes of varying intensity were studied in the Sargasso Sea eddy field approximately 250 km southeast of Cape Hatteras. Lateral variability of water-mass properties, the distribution of microscale turbulence, and the evolution of several patches of inert dye were studied with an array of shipboard, autonomous, and airborne instruments. Observations were made at two sites, characterized by weak and moderate background mesoscale straining, to contrast different regimes of lateral stirring. Analyses to date suggest that, in both cases, the lateral dispersion of natural and deliberately released tracers was O(1) m2 s–1 as found elsewhere, which is faster than might be expected from traditional shear dispersion by persistent mesoscale flow and linear internal waves. These findings point to the possible importance of kilometer-scale stirring by submesoscale eddies and nonlinear internal-wave processes or the need to modify the traditional shear-dispersion paradigm to include higher-order effects. A unique aspect of the Scalable Lateral Mixing and Coherent Turbulence (LatMix) field experiment is the combination of direct measurements of dye dispersion with the concurrent multiscale hydrographic and turbulence observations, enabling evaluation of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the observed dispersion at a new level.

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