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Tangdong Qu
,
Linlin Zhang
, and
Niklas Schneider

Abstract

Subtropical underwater (STUW) and its year-to-year variability in annual subduction rate are investigated using recently available Argo data in the North Atlantic. For the period of observation (2002–14), the mean annual subduction rate of the STUW is 7.3 ± 1.2 Sv (1 Sv = 106 m3 s−1) within the density range between 25.0 and 26.0 kg m−3. Once subducted, the STUW spreads in the subtropical gyre as a vertical salinity maximum. In the mean, the spatial changes in temperature and salinity of the STUW tend to compensate each other, and the density of the water mass remains rather stable near 25.5 kg m−3 in the southwestern part of the subtropical gyre. The annual subduction rate of the STUW varies from year to year, and most of this variability is due to lateral induction, which in turn is directly linked to the variability of the winter mixed layer depth. Through modulation of surface buoyancy, wind anomalies associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation are primarily responsible for this variability. Sea surface salinity anomalies in the formation region of the STUW are conveyed into the thermocline, but their westward propagation cannot be detected by the present data.

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Yoshi N. Sasaki
and
Niklas Schneider

Abstract

Meridional shifts of the Kuroshio Extension (KE) jet on decadal time scales are examined using a 1960–2004 hindcast simulation of an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model for the Earth Simulator (OFES). The leading mode of the simulated KE represents the meridional shifts of the jet on decadal time scales with the largest southward shift in the early 1980s associated with the climate regime shift in 1976/77, a result confirmed with subsurface temperature observations. The meridional shifts originate east of the date line and propagate westward along the mean jet axis, a trajectory inconsistent with the traditionally used linear long Rossby waves linearized in Cartesian coordinates, although the phase speed is comparable to that in the traditional framework. The zonal scale of these westward propagation signals is about 4000 km and much larger than their meridional scale. To understand the mechanism for the westward propagation of the KE jet shifts, the authors consider the limit of a thin jet. This dynamic framework describes the temporal evolution of the location of a sharp potential vorticity front under the assumption that variations along the jet are small compared to variations normal to the jet in natural coordinates and is well suited to the strong jet and potential vorticity gradients of the KE. For scaling appropriate to the decadal adjustments in the KE, the thin-jet model successfully reproduces the westward propagations and decadal shifts of the jet latitude simulated in OFES. These results give a physical basis for the prediction of decadal variability in the KE.

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Niklas Schneider
,
Tim Barnett
,
Mojib Latif
, and
Timothy Stockdale

Abstract

The physics of the Indo–Pacific warm pool are investigated using a coupled ocean atmosphere general circulation model. The model, developed at the Max-Planck-Institut fair Meteorologic, Hamburg, does not employ a flux correction and is used with atmospheres at T42 and T21 resolution. The simulations are compared with observations, and the model's mean and seasonal heat budgets and physics in the Indo–Pacific warm pool region are explored for the T42 resolution run.

Despite the simulation of a split intertropical convergence zone, and of a cold tongue that extends too far to the west, simulated warm pool temperatures are consistent with observations at T42 resolution, while the T21 resolution yields a cold bias of 1K. At T42 resolution the seasonal migration of the warm pool is reproduced reasonably well, as are the surface heat fluxes, winds, and clouds. However, simulated precipitation is too small compared to observations, implying that the surface density flux is dominated by fluxes of heat.

In the Pacific portion of the warm pool, the average net heat gain of the ocean amounts to 30–40 W m−2. In the northern branch, this heat gain is balanced by vertical advection, while in the southern branch, zonal, meridional, and vertical advection cool the ocean at approximately equal rates. At the equator, the surface heat flux is balanced by zonal and vertical advection and vertical mixing. The Indonesian and Indian Ocean portions of the warm pool receive from the atmosphere 30 and 50 W m−2, respectively, and this flux is balanced by vertical advection. The cooling due to vertical advection stems from numerical diffusion associated with the upstream scheme, the coarse vertical resolution of the ocean model, and near-inertial oscillations forced by high-frequency atmospheric variability.

The seasonal migration of the warm pool is largely a result of the seasonal variability of the net surface heat flux, horizontal and vertical advections are of secondary importance and increase the seasonal range of surface temperature slightly everywhere in the warm pool, with the exception of its southern branch. There, advection reduces the effect of the surface flux. The seasonal variability of the surface heat flux in turn is mainly determined by the shortwave radiation, but evaporation modifies the signal significantly. The annual cycles of reduction of solar radiation due to clouds and SST evolve independently from each other in the Pacific portion of the warm pool; that is, clouds have little impact on SST. In the Indian Ocean, however, clouds limit the maximum SST attained during the annual cycle.

In the western Pacific and Indonesian portion of the warm pool, penetrative shortwave radiation leads to convective mixing by heating deeper levels at a greater rate than the surface, which experiences heat losses due to turbulent and longwave heat fluxes. In the deeper levels, there is no mechanism to balance the heating due to penetrative radiation, except convection and its attendant mixing. In the Indian Ocean, however. the resulting vertical heating profile due to the surface fluxes decreases monotonically with depth and does not support convective mixing. Concurrently, the warm pool is shallower in the Indian Ocean compared with the western Pacific, indicating that convective mixing due to penetrative radiation is important in maintaining the vertical structure of the Pacific portion of the warm pool.

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Bunmei Taguchi
,
Niklas Schneider
,
Masami Nonaka
, and
Hideharu Sasaki

Abstract

Generation and propagation processes of upper-ocean heat content (OHC) in the North Pacific are investigated using oceanic subsurface observations and an eddy-resolving ocean general circulation model hindcast simulation. OHC anomalies are decomposed into physically distinct dynamical components (OHCρ) due to temperature anomalies that are associated with density anomalies and spiciness components (OHCχ) due to temperature anomalies that are density compensating with salinity. Analysis of the observational and model data consistently shows that both dynamical and spiciness components contribute to interannual–decadal OHC variability, with the former (latter) component dominating in the subtropical (subpolar) North Pacific. OHCρ variability represents heaving of thermocline, propagates westward, and intensifies along the Kuroshio Extension, consistent with jet-trapped Rossby waves, while OHCχ variability propagates eastward along the subarctic frontal zone, suggesting advection by mean eastward currents. OHCχ variability tightly corresponds in space to horizontal mean spiciness gradients. Meanwhile, area-averaged OHCχ anomalies in the western subarctic frontal zone closely correspond in time to meridional shifts of the subarctic frontal zone. Regression coefficient of the OHCχ time series on the frontal displacement anomalies quantitatively agree with the area-averaged mean spiciness gradient in the region, and suggest that OHCχ is generated via frontal variability in the subarctic frontal zone.

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Bo Qiu
,
Shuiming Chen
,
Niklas Schneider
, and
Bunmei Taguchi

Abstract

Being the extension of a wind-driven western boundary current, the Kuroshio Extension (KE) has long been recognized as a turbulent current system rich in large-amplitude meanders and energetic pinched-off eddies. An important feature emerging from recent satellite altimeter measurements and eddy-resolving ocean model simulations is that the KE system exhibits well-defined decadal modulations between a stable and an unstable dynamic state. Here the authors show that the decadally modulating KE dynamic state can be effectively defined by the sea surface height (SSH) anomalies in the 31°–36°N, 140°–165°E region. By utilizing the SSH-based KE index from 1977 to 2012, they demonstrate that the time-varying KE dynamic state can be predicted at lead times of up to ~6 yr. This long-term predictability rests on two dynamic processes: 1) the oceanic adjustment is via baroclinic Rossby waves that carry interior wind-forced anomalies westward into the KE region and 2) the low-frequency KE variability influences the extratropical storm tracks and surface wind stress curl field across the North Pacific basin. By shifting poleward (equatorward) the storm tracks and the large-scale wind stress curl pattern during its stable (unstable) dynamic state, the KE variability induces a delayed negative feedback that can enhance the predictable SSH variance on the decadal time scales.

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Wilbert Weijer
,
Ernesto Muñoz
,
Niklas Schneider
, and
François Primeau

Abstract

A systematic study is presented of decadal climate variability in the North Pacific. In particular, the hypothesis is addressed that oceanic Rossby basin modes are responsible for enhanced energy at decadal and bidecadal time scales. To this end, a series of statistical analyses are performed on a 500-yr control integration of the Community Climate System Model, version 3 (CCSM3). In particular, a principal oscillation pattern (POP) analysis is performed to identify modal behavior in the subsurface pressure field.

It is found that the dominant energy of sea surface temperature (SST) variability at 25 yr (the model equivalent of the Pacific decadal oscillation) cannot be explained by the resonant excitation of an oceanic basin mode. However, significant energy in the subsurface pressure field at time scales of 17 and 10 yr appears to be related to internal ocean oscillations. However, these oscillations lack the characteristics of the classical basin modes, and must either be deformed beyond recognition by the background circulation and inhomogeneous stratification or have another dynamical origin altogether. The 17-yr oscillation projects onto the Pacific decadal oscillation and, if present in the real ocean, has the potential to enhance the predictability of low-frequency climate variability in the North Pacific.

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Boyin Huang
,
Vikram M. Mehta
, and
Niklas Schneider

Abstract

In the study of decadal variations of the Pacific Ocean circulations and temperature, the role of anomalous net atmospheric freshwater [evaporation minus precipitation minus river runoff (EmP)] has received scant attention even though ocean salinity anomalies are long lived and can be expected to have more variance at low frequencies than at high frequencies. To explore the magnitude of salinity and temperature anomalies and their generation processes, the authors studied the response of the Pacific Ocean to idealized EmP anomalies in the Tropics and subtropics using an ocean general circulation model developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Simulations showed that salinity anomalies generated by the anomalous EmP were spread throughout the Pacific basin by mean flow advection. This redistribution of salinity anomalies caused adjustments of basin-scale ocean currents, which further resulted in basin-scale temperature anomalies due to changes in heat advection caused by anomalous currents. In this study, the response of the Pacific Ocean to magnitudes and locations of anomalous EmP was linear. When forced with a positive EmP anomaly in the subtropical North (South) Pacific, a cooling occurred in the western North (South) Pacific, which extended to the tropical and South (North) Pacific, and a warming occurred in the eastern North (South) Pacific. When forced with a negative EmP anomaly in the tropical Pacific, a warming occurred in the tropical Pacific and western North and South Pacific and a cooling occurred in the eastern North Pacific near 30°N and the South Pacific near 30°S. The temperature changes (0.2°C) in the tropical Pacific were associated with changes in the South Equatorial Current. The temperature changes (0.8°C) in the subtropical North and South Pacific were associated with changes in the subtropical gyres. The temperature anomalies propagated from the tropical Pacific to the subtropical North and South Pacific via equatorial divergent Ekman flows and poleward western boundary currents, and they propagated from the subtropical North and South Pacific to the western tropical Pacific via equatorward-propagating coastal Kelvin waves and to the eastern tropical Pacific via eastward-propagating equatorial Kelvin waves. The time scale of temperature response was typically much longer than that of salinity response because of slow adjustment times of ocean circulations. These results imply that the slow response of ocean temperature due to anomalous EmP in the Tropics and subtropics may play an important role in the Pacific decadal variability.

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Niklas Schneider
,
Emanuele Di Lorenzo
, and
Pearn P. Niiler

Abstract

Hydrographic observations southwestward of the Southern California Bight in the period 1937–99 show that temperature and salinity variations have very different interannual variability. Temperature varies within and above the thermocline and is correlated with climate indices of El Niño, the Pacific decadal oscillation, and local upwelling. Salinity variability is largest in the surface layers of the offshore salinity minimum and is characterized by decadal-time-scale changes. The salinity anomalies are independent of temperature, of heave of the pycnocline, and of the climate indices. Calculations demonstrate that long-shore anomalous geostrophic advection of the mean salinity gradient accumulates along the mean southward trajectory along the California Current and produces the observed salinity variations. The flow anomalies for this advective process are independent of large-scale climate indices. It is hypothesized that low-frequency variability of the California Current system results from unresolved, small-scale atmospheric forcing or from the ocean mesoscale upstream of the Southern California Bight.

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Thomas Kilpatrick
,
Niklas Schneider
, and
Emanuele Di Lorenzo

Abstract

The generation of variance by anomalous advection of a passive tracer in the thermocline is investigated using the example of density-compensated temperature and salinity anomalies, or spiciness. A coupled Markov model is developed in which wind stress curl forces the large-scale baroclinic ocean pressure that in turn controls the anomalous geostrophic advection of spiciness. The “double integration” of white noise atmospheric forcing by this Markov model results in a frequency (ω) spectrum of large-scale spiciness proportional to ω −4, so that spiciness variability is concentrated at low frequencies.

An eddy-permitting regional model hindcast of the northeast Pacific (1950–2007) confirms that time series of large-scale spiciness variability are exceptionally smooth, with frequency spectra ∝ ω −4 for frequencies greater than 0.2 cpy. At shorter spatial scales (wavelengths less than ∼500 km), the spiciness frequency spectrum is whitened by mesoscale eddies, but this eddy-forced variability can be filtered out by spatially averaging. Large-scale and long-term measurements are needed to observe the variance of spiciness or any other passive tracer subject to anomalous advection in the thermocline.

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Shoshiro Minobe
,
Mio Terada
,
Bo Qiu
, and
Niklas Schneider

Abstract

To better understand coastal sea level variability and changes, a theory that predicts sea levels along a curved western boundary using interior ocean sea level information is proposed. The western boundary sea level at a particular latitude is expressed by the sum of contributions from interior sea levels propagating onto the western boundary by long Rossby waves between that latitude and a higher latitude, and from the western boundary sea level at the higher latitude. This theory is examined by using a linear, reduced gravity model. A comparison between the theory and the model shows good agreement. A simple scaling law (or rule of thumb) derived from the theory provides a measure of the higher-latitude sea level and ocean interior sea level contributions. The theory is then tested using data from 34 climate models in phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for dynamic sea level changes between the end of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The theory captures the nearly uniform sea level rise from the Labrador Sea to New York City (NYC), with a reduction in the increase of sea level farther south toward the equator, qualitatively consistent with the CMIP5 multimodel ensemble, even though the theory underestimates the equatorward reduction rate. Along the South American east coast, the theory successfully reproduced the spatial pattern of the sea level change. The theory suggests a strong link between a sea level rise hot spot along the northeastern coast of North America and the sea level increase in the Labrador Sea, consistent with the result that rates of NYC sea level rise are highly correlated to those in the Labrador Sea in CMIP5 models.

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