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Andrew Mc C. Hogg
,
William K. Dewar
,
Peter D. Killworth
, and
Jeffrey R. Blundell

Abstract

A midlatitude coupled ocean–atmosphere model is used to investigate interactions between the atmosphere and the wind-driven ocean circulation. This model uses idealized geometry, yet rich and complicated dynamic flow regimes arise in the ocean due to the explicit simulation of geostrophic turbulence. An interdecadal mode of intrinsic ocean variability is found, and this mode projects onto existing atmospheric modes of variability, thereby controlling the time scale of the atmospheric modes. It is also shown that ocean circulation controls the time scale of the SST response to wind forcing, and that coupled feedback mechanisms thus modify variability of the atmospheric circulation. It is concluded that ocean–atmosphere coupling in the midlatitudes is unlikely to produce new modes of variability but may control the temporal behavior of modes that exist in uncoupled systems.

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T. N. Krishnamurti
,
Arindam Chakraborty
,
Ruby Krishnamurti
,
William K. Dewar
, and
Carol Anne Clayson

Abstract

Improved seasonal prediction of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies over the global oceans is the theme of this paper. Using 13 state-of-the-art coupled global atmosphere–ocean models and 13 yr of seasonal forecasts, the performance of individual models, the ensemble mean, the bias-removed ensemble mean, and the Florida State University (FSU) superensemble are compared. A total of 23 400 seasonal forecasts based on 1-month lead times were available for this study. Evaluation metrics include both deterministic and probabilistic skill measures, such as verification of anomalies based on model and observed climatology, time series of specific climate indices, standard deterministic ensemble mean scores including anomaly correlations, root-mean-square (RMS) errors, and probabilistic skill measures such as equitable threat scores for seasonal SST forecasts. This study also illustrates the Niño-3.4 SST forecast skill for the equatorial Pacific Ocean and for the dipole index for the Indian Ocean. The relative skills of total SST fields and of the SST anomalies from the 13 coupled atmosphere–ocean models are presented. Comparisons of superensemble-based seasonal forecasts with recent studies on SST anomaly forecasts are also shown.

Overall it is found that the multimodel superensemble forecasts are characterized by considerable RMS error reductions and increased accuracy in the spatial distribution of SST. Superensemble SST skill also persists for El Niño and La Niña forecasts since the large comparative skill of the superensemble is retained across such years. Real-time forecasts of seasonal sea surface temperature anomalies appear to be possible.

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Quentin Jamet
,
William K. Dewar
,
Nicolas Wienders
,
Bruno Deremble
,
Sally Close
, and
Thierry Penduff

Abstract

Mechanisms driving the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) variability at low frequency are of central interest for accurate climate predictions. Although the subpolar gyre region has been identified as a preferred place for generating climate time-scale signals, their southward propagation remains under consideration, complicating the interpretation of the observed time series provided by the Rapid Climate Change–Meridional Overturning Circulation and Heatflux Array–Western Boundary Time Series (RAPID–MOCHA–WBTS) program. In this study, we aim at disentangling the respective contribution of the local atmospheric forcing from signals of remote origin for the subtropical low-frequency AMOC variability. We analyze for this a set of four ensembles of a regional (20°S–55°N), eddy-resolving (1/12°) North Atlantic oceanic configuration, where surface forcing and open boundary conditions are alternatively permuted from fully varying (realistic) to yearly repeating signals. Their analysis reveals the predominance of local, atmospherically forced signal at interannual time scales (2–10 years), whereas signals imposed by the boundaries are responsible for the decadal (10–30 years) part of the spectrum. Due to this marked time-scale separation, we show that, although the intergyre region exhibits peculiarities, most of the subtropical AMOC variability can be understood as a linear superposition of these two signals. Finally, we find that the decadal-scale, boundary-forced AMOC variability has both northern and southern origins, although the former dominates over the latter, including at the site of the RAPID array (26.5°N).

Free access
Xujing Jia Davis
,
Lewis M. Rothstein
,
William K. Dewar
, and
Dimitris Menemenlis

Abstract

North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water (NPSTMW) is an essential feature of the North Pacific subtropical gyre imparting significant influence on regional SST evolution on seasonal and longer time scales and, as such, is an important component of basin-scale North Pacific climate variability. This study examines the seasonal-to-interannual variability of NPSTMW, the physical processes responsible for this variability, and the connections between NPSTMW and basin-scale climate signals using an eddy-permitting 1979–2006 ocean simulation made available by the Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II (ECCO2). The monthly mean seasonal cycle of NPSTMW in the simulation exhibits three distinct phases: (i) formation during November–March, (ii) isolation during March–June, and (iii) dissipation during June–November—each corresponding to significant changes in upper-ocean structure. An interannual signal is also evident in NPSTMW volume and other characteristic properties with volume minima occurring in 1979, 1988, and 1999. This volume variability is correlated with the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) with zero time lag. Further analyses demonstrate the connection of NPSTMW to the basin-scale ocean circulation. With this, modulations of upper-ocean structure driven by the varying strength and position of the westerlies as well as the regional air–sea heat flux pattern are seen to contribute to the variability of NPSTMW volume on interannual time scales.

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Takaya Uchida
,
Quentin Jamet
,
William K. Dewar
,
Bruno Deremble
,
Andrew C. Poje
, and
Luolin Sun

Abstract

We examine the ocean energy cycle where the eddies are defined about the ensemble mean of a partially air–sea coupled, eddy-rich ensemble simulation of the North Atlantic. The decomposition about the ensemble mean leads to a parameter-free definition of eddies, which is interpreted as the expression of oceanic chaos. Using the ensemble framework, we define the reservoirs of mean and eddy kinetic energy (MKE and EKE, respectively) and mean total dynamic enthalpy (MTDE). We opt for the usage of dynamic enthalpy (DE) as a proxy for potential energy due to its dynamically consistent relation to hydrostatic pressure in Boussinesq fluids and nonreliance on any reference stratification. The curious result that emerges is that the potential energy reservoir cannot be decomposed into its mean and eddy components, and the eddy flux of DE can be absorbed into the EKE budget as pressure work. We find from the energy cycle that while baroclinic instability, associated with a positive vertical eddy buoyancy flux, tends to peak around February, EKE takes its maximum around September in the wind-driven gyre. Interestingly, the energy input from MKE to EKE, a process sometimes associated with barotropic processes, becomes larger than the vertical eddy buoyancy flux during the summer and autumn. Our results question the common notion that the inverse energy cascade of wintertime EKE energized by baroclinic instability within the mixed layer is solely responsible for the summer-to-autumn peak in EKE and suggest that both the eddy transport of DE and transfer of energy from MKE to EKE contribute to the seasonal EKE maxima.

Significance Statement

The Earth system, including the ocean, is chaotic. Namely, the state to be realized is highly sensitive to minute perturbations, a phenomenon commonly known as the “butterfly effect.” Here, we run a sweep of ocean simulations that allow us to disentangle the oceanic expression of chaos from the oceanic response to the atmosphere. We investigate the energy pathways between the two in a physically consistent manner in the North Atlantic region. Our approach can be extended to robustly examine the temporal change of oceanic energy and heat distribution under a warming climate.

Open access
Andrew Mc C. Hogg
,
Peter D. Killworth
,
Jeffrey R. Blundell
, and
William K. Dewar

Abstract

Eddy-resolving quasigeostrophic simulations of wind-driven circulation in a large ocean basin are presented. The results show that strong modes of low-frequency variability arise in many parameter regimes and that the strength of these modes depends upon the presence of inertial recirculations in the flow field. The inertial recirculations arise through advection of anomalous potential vorticity by the western boundary current and are barotropized by the effect of baroclinic eddies in the flow. The mechanism of low-frequency oscillations is explored with reference to previous studies, and it is found that the observed mode can be linked to the gyre mode but is strongly modified by the effect of eddies.

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Thierry Penduff
,
Mélanie Juza
,
Bernard Barnier
,
Jan Zika
,
William K. Dewar
,
Anne-Marie Treguier
,
Jean-Marc Molines
, and
Nicole Audiffren

Abstract

This paper evaluates in a realistic context the local contributions of direct atmospheric forcing and intrinsic oceanic processes on interannual sea level anomalies (SLAs). A ¼° global ocean–sea ice general circulation model, driven over 47 yr by the full range of atmospheric time scales, is quantitatively assessed against altimetry and shown to reproduce most observed features of the interannual SLA variability from 1993 to 2004. Comparing this simulation with a second driven only by the climatological annual cycle reveals that the intrinsic part of the total interannual SLA variance exceeds 40% over half of the open-ocean area and exceeds 80% over one-fifth of it. This intrinsic contribution is particularly strong in eddy-active regions (more than 70%–80% in the Southern Ocean and western boundary current extensions) as predicted by idealized studies, as well as within the 20°–35° latitude bands. The atmosphere directly forces most of the interannual SLA variance at low latitudes and in most midlatitude eastern basins, in particular north of about 40°N in the Pacific. The interannual SLA variance is almost entirely due to intrinsic processes south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the Indian Ocean sector, while half of this variance is forced by the atmosphere north of it. The same simulations were performed and analyzed at 2° resolution as well: switching to this laminar regime yields a comparable forced variability (large-scale distribution and magnitude) but almost suppresses the intrinsic variability. This likely explains why laminar ocean models largely underestimate the interannual SLA variance.

Full access
Hui Zhou
,
Hengchang Liu
,
Shuwen Tan
,
Wenlong Yang
,
Yao Li
,
Xueqi Liu
,
Qiang Ren
, and
William K. Dewar

Abstract

The structure and variations of the North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC) in the far western Pacific Ocean during 2014–16 are investigated using repeated in situ hydrographic data, altimeter data, Argo data, and reanalysis data. The NECC shifted ~1° southward and intensified significantly with its transport exceeding 40 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), nearly double its climatology value, during the developing phase of the 2015/16 El Niño event. Observations show that the 2015/16 El Niño exerted a comparable impact on the NECC with that of the extreme 1997/98 El Niño in the far western Pacific Ocean. Baroclinic instability provided the primary energy source for the eddy kinetic energy (EKE) in the 2015/16 El Niño, which differs from the traditional understanding of the energy source of EKE as barotropic instability in low-latitude ocean. The enhanced vertical shear and the reduced density jump between the NECC layer and the North Equatorial Subsurface Current (NESC) layer renders the NECC–NESC system baroclinically unstable in the western Pacific Ocean during El Niño developing phase. The eddy–mean flow interactions here are diverse associated with various states of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Open access