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  • Author or Editor: Alison M. Macdonald x
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Toshio Suga, Kazunori Motoki, Yoshikazu Aoki, and Alison M. Macdonald

Abstract

A climatology of the winter mixed layer in the North Pacific Ocean was constructed using hydrographic data from historical archives and recent observational programs, including the World Ocean Circulation Experiment. The main aim was to provide better knowledge about source areas of upper water masses. The authors have endeavored to preserve water properties near the frontal regions by keeping the smoothing scale as small as possible. The resulting climatology shows considerable differences in the mixed layer depth and its water properties from those derived from the World Ocean Atlas (WOA). Maps of the potential vorticity field of the North Pacific pycnocline are presented using the isopycnally averaged climatology, HydroBase. Three distinct lateral minima of potential vorticity are identified as Subtropical Mode Water (STMW), Central Mode Water (CMW), and Eastern Subtropical Mode Water (ESTMW), in the western, central, and eastern parts of the subtropical gyre, respectively. The HydroBase isopycnal climatology is more consistent with the present mixed layer climatology than with the mixed layer from WOA in the sense that the former represents the formation of all mode waters more adequately. The STMW and ESTMW formation areas are associated with the mixed layer front and the small horizontal gradient of the mixed layer density, respectively, which confirms previously proposed formation mechanisms. That is, the low potential vorticity of STMW and ESTMW results from the large lateral induction and the small cross-isopycnal flow, respectively. The CMW formation area is not primarily associated with the mixed layer front, which contrasts with previous ideas. It is suggested that low potential vorticity of CMW is mainly caused by small cross-isopycnal flow rather than through large lateral induction rate. Additional new features of subtropical pycnocline ventilation revealed by the HydroBase isopycnal climatology are also discussed.

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Bernadette M. Sloyan, Susan E. Wijffels, Bronte Tilbrook, Katsuro Katsumata, Akihiko Murata, and Alison M. Macdonald

Abstract

Repeated occupations of two hydrographic sections in the southwest Pacific basin from the 1990s to 2000s track property changes of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). The largest property changes—warming, freshening, increase in total carbon, and decrease in oxygen—are found near the basin’s deep western boundary between 50° and 20°S. The magnitude of the property changes decreases with increasing distance from the western boundary. At the deep western boundary, analysis of the relative importance of AABW (γ n > 28.1 kg m−3) freshening, heating, or isopycnal heave suggests that the deep ocean stratification change is the result of both warming and freshening processes. The consistent deep ocean changes near the western boundary of the southwest Pacific basin dispel the notion that the deep ocean is quiescent. High-latitude climate variability is being directly transmitted into the deep southwest Pacific basin and the global deep ocean through dynamic deep western boundary currents.

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Robert S. Pickart, Alison M. Macdonald, G. W. K. Moore, Ian A. Renfrew, John E. Walsh, and William S. Kessler

Abstract

The seasonal change in the development of Aleutian low pressure systems from early fall to early winter is analyzed using a combination of meteorological reanalysis fields, satellite sea surface temperature (SST) data, and satellite wind data. The time period of the study is September–December 2002, although results are shown to be representative of the long-term climatology. Characteristics of the storms were documented as they progressed across the North Pacific, including their path, central pressure, deepening rate, and speed of translation. Clear patterns emerged. Storms tended to deepen in two distinct geographical locations—the Gulf of Alaska in early fall and the western North Pacific in late fall. In the Gulf of Alaska, a quasi-permanent “notch” in the SST distribution is argued to be of significance. The signature of the notch is imprinted in the atmosphere, resulting in a region of enhanced cyclonic potential vorticity in the lower troposphere that is conducive for storm development. Later in the season, as winter approaches and the Sea of Okhotsk becomes partially ice covered and cold, the air emanating from the Asian continent leads to enhanced baroclinicity in the region south of Kamchatka. This corresponds to enhanced storm cyclogenesis in that region. Consequently, there is a seasonal westward migration of the dominant lobe of the Aleutian low. The impact of the wind stress curl pattern resulting from these two regions of storm development on the oceanic circulation is investigated using historical hydrography. It is argued that the seasonal bimodal input of cyclonic vorticity from the wind may be partly responsible for the two distinct North Pacific subarctic gyres.

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