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Kettyah C. Chhak
,
Andrew M. Moore
,
Ralph F. Milliff
,
Grant Branstator
,
William R. Holland
, and
Michael Fisher

Abstract

At midlatitudes, the magnitude of stochastic wind stress forcing due to atmospheric weather is comparable to that associated with the seasonal cycle. Stochastic forcing is therefore likely to have a significant influence on the ocean circulation. In this work, the influence of the stochastic component of the wind stress forcing on the large-scale, wind-driven circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean is examined. To this end, a quasigeostrophic model of the North Atlantic was forced with estimates of the stochastic component of wind stress curl obtained from the NCAR Community Climate Model. Analysis reveals that much of the stochastically induced variability in the ocean circulation occurs in the vicinity of the western boundary and some major bathymetric features. Thus, the response is localized even though the stochastic forcing occurs over most of the ocean basin. Using the ideas of generalized stability theory, the stochastically induced response in the ocean circulation can be interpreted as a linear interference of the nonorthogonal eigenmodes of the system. This linear interference process yields transient growth of stochastically induced perturbations. By examining the model pseudospectra, it is seen that the nonnormal nature of the system enhances the transient growth of perturbation enstrophy and therefore elevates and maintains the variance of the stochastically induced circulations in the aforementioned regions. The primary causes of nonnormality in the enstrophy norm are bathymetry and the western boundary current circulation.

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Kettyah C. Chhak
,
Andrew M. Moore
,
Ralph F. Milliff
,
Grant Branstator
,
William R. Holland
, and
Michael Fisher

Abstract

As discussed in Part I of this study, the magnitude of the stochastic component of wind stress forcing is comparable to that of the seasonal cycle and thus will likely have a significant influence on the ocean circulation. By forcing a quasigeostrophic model of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation with stochastic wind stress curl data from the NCAR CCM3, it was found in Part I that much of the stochastically induced variability in the ocean circulation is confined to the western boundary region and some major topographic features even though the stochastic forcing is basinwide. This can be attributed to effects of bathymetry and vorticity gradients in the basic state on the system eigenmodes. Using generalized stability theory (GST), it was found in Part I that transient growth due to the linear interference of nonnormal eigenmodes enhances the stochastically induced variance. In the present study, the GST analysis of Part I is extended and it is found that the patterns of wind stress curl that are most effective for inducing variability in the model have their largest projection on the most nonnormal eigenmodes of the system. These eigenmodes are confined primarily to the western boundary region and are composed of long Rossby wave packets that are Doppler shifted by the Gulf Stream to have eastward group velocity. Linear interference of these eigenmodes yields transient growth of stochastically induced perturbations, and it is this process that maintains the variance of the stochastically induced circulations. Analysis of the large-scale circulation also reveals that the system possesses a large number of degrees of freedom, which has significant implications for ocean prediction. Sensitivity studies show that the results and conclusions of this study are insensitive and robust to variations in model parameters and model configuration.

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