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  • Author or Editor: Paola Malanotte Rizzoli x
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Antonietta Capotondi
,
Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli
, and
William R. Holland

Abstract

The dynamical consequences of constraining a numerical model with sea surface height data have been investigated. The model used for this study is a quasigeostrophic model of the Gulf Stream region. The data that have been assimilated are maps of sea surface height obtained as the superposition of sea surface height variability deduced from the Geosat altimeter measurements and a mean field constructed from historical hydrographic data. The method used for assimilating the data is the nudging technique. Nudging has been implemented in such a way as to achieve a high degree of convergence of the surface model fields toward the observations. The assimilations of the surface data is thus equivalent to the prescription of a surface pressure boundary condition. The authors analyzed the mechanisms of the model adjustment and the characteristics of the resultant equilibrium state when the surface data are assimilated. Since the surface data are the superposition of a mean component and an eddy component, in order to understand the relative role of these two components in determining the characteristics of the final equilibrium state, two different experiments have been considered: in the first experiment only the climatological mean field is assimilated, while in the second experiment the total surface streamfunction field (mean plus eddies) has been used. It is shown that the model behavior in the presence of the surface data constraint can be conveniently described in terms of baroclinic Fofonoff modes. The prescribed mean component of the surface data acts as a “surface topography” in this problem. Its presence determines a distortion of the geostrophic contours in the subsurface layers, thus constraining the mean circulation in those layers. The intensity of the mean flow is determined by the inflow/outflow conditions at the open boundaries, as well as by eddy forcing and dissipation.

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Tomoko Inui
,
Alban Lazar
,
Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli
, and
Antonio Busalacchi

Abstract

A reduced-gravity, primitive equation, upper-ocean GCM is used to study subduction pathways in the Atlantic subtropical and tropical gyres. In order to compare the different responses in the pathways to strong and weak wind stress forcings, Hellerman and Rosenstein (HR) and da Silva (DSV) climatological annual-mean and monthly wind stress forcings are used to force the model. It is shown that subtropical–tropical communication is dependent on both the strength and structure of the wind forcing. A comparison between the two experiments shows two results for the North Atlantic: 1) the full communication window between the subtropical and tropical gyres is similar in width despite the difference in the intensity of the winds and 2) the interior exchange window width is substantially larger in the weak forcing experiment (DSV) than the strong forcing experiment (HR), accompanied by a larger transport as well. The South Atlantic exhibits a similar communication between the subtropics and Tropics in both cases. The annual-mean of the seasonally varying forcing also supports these results. A two-layer ventilated thermocline model is developed with a zonally varying, even though idealized, wind stress in the North Atlantic, which includes the upward Ekman pumping region absent from the classical ventilated thermocline model. The model shows that the communication window for subduction pathways is a function of the zonal gradient of the Ekman pumping velocity, not the Ekman pumping itself, at outcrop lines and at the boundary between the subtropical and tropical gyres. This solution is validated using three additional GCM experiments. It is shown that the communication windows are primarily explained by the ventilated thermocline model without considering the buoyancy effects. From the GCM experiments, the interior exchange window, which is a part of the communication window and cannot be explained by the ventilated thermocline model, is widened by two factors: 1) eliminating part of the positive Ekman pumping region in the eastern North Atlantic and 2) weakening the Ekman pumping over the whole region. The implications of these results suggest that changes in the wind forcing on the order of the difference in the wind products used here can have a significant effect on the attributes of the communication window and, hence, the thermocline structure at lower latitudes.

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Steven R. Jayne
,
Nelson G. Hogg
, and
Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli

Abstract

A numerical model, with quasigeostrophic and barotropic dynamics, is used to study the forcing of mean flows by an unstable jet. The initially zonal jet has specified shape and transport at the western inflow boundary and is sufficiently intense and narrow that the potential vorticity gradient changes sign, giving rise to barotropic instabilities. The resulting eddies act to smooth the potential vorticity anomalies transported into the domain and produce homogenized regions in which recirculations develop to the north and south of the jet. The intensity of these recirculations, as a function of nondimensional beta, is investigated and a simple, kinematic interpretation offered.

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Markus Jochum
,
Raghu Murtugudde
,
Raffaele Ferrari
, and
Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli

Abstract

An ocean general circulation model (OGCM) of the tropical Atlantic is coupled to an advective atmospheric boundary layer model. This configuration is used to investigate the hypothesis that resolving tropical instability waves (TIWs) in OGCMs will remove the equatorial cold bias that is a feature common to coarse-resolution OGCMs. It is shown that current eddy parameterizations cannot capture the TIW heat flux because diffusion in coarse-resolution OGCMs removes heat from the warm pool to heat the equatorial cold tongue, whereas TIWs draw their heat mostly from the atmosphere. Thus, they can bring more heat to the equatorial cold tongue without cooling the warm pool, and the SST in the warm pool is higher and more realistic. Contrary to expectations, the SST in the equatorial cold tongue is not significantly improved. The equatorial warming due to TIWs is slightly greater than the warming due to diffusion, but this increased equatorial heat flux in the high-resolution experiment is compensated by increased equatorial entrainment there. This is attributed to the Equatorial Undercurrent being stronger, thereby increasing the entrainment rate through shear instability. Thus, higher resolution does not significantly increase the total oceanic heat flux convergence in the equatorial mixed layer.

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Jinbo Wang
,
Michael A. Spall
,
Glenn R. Flierl
, and
Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli

Abstract

Linear and nonlinear radiating instabilities of an eastern boundary current are studied using a barotropic quasigeostrophic model in an idealized meridional channel. The eastern boundary current is meridionally uniform and produces unstable modes in which long waves are most able to radiate. These long radiating modes are easily suppressed by friction because of their small growth rates. However, the long radiating modes can overcome friction by nonlinear energy input transferred from the more unstable trapped mode and play an important role in the energy budget of the boundary current system. The nonlinearly powered long radiating modes take away part of the perturbation energy from the instability origin to the ocean interior. The radiated instabilities can generate zonal striations in the ocean interior that are comparable to features observed in the ocean. Subharmonic instability is identified to be responsible for the nonlinear resonance between the radiating and trapped modes, but more general nonlinear triad interactions are expected to apply in a highly nonlinear environment.

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