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Richard J. Greatbatch, Guoqing Li, and Sheng Zhang

Abstract

This paper investigates the hindcasting of interdecadal climate events using an ocean circulation model driven by different combinations of time-varying surface flux, sea surface temperature (SST), and sea surface salinity (SSS) data. Data are generated from a control run, against which the subsequent model experiments are compared. The most robust results are obtained using flux boundary conditions on both surface temperature and salinity. For these boundary conditions, model results am relatively insensitive to noise in the surface data and take about 20 years to overcome the imposition of an incorrect initial condition. Model results are much more sensitive to noisy inputs when run using SST and SSS data. To obtain meaningful results, SST data alone are not sufficient; SSS data are also required. This is related to the well-known instability of ocean climate models upon a switch to mixed boundary conditions. Time-varying SSS data cannot be replaced by climatology; using a best-fit TS relation, to calculate anomalies in SSS from those in SST is also found to give disappointing results. The difficulty of trying to correct for inaccuracies in surface heat flux using SST data, while at the same time using a flux boundary condition on surface salinity, is demonstrated.

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Ke Li, Zhexuan Zhang, Greg Chini, and Glenn Flierl

Abstract

Comparably little is known about the impact of down-front-propagating surface waves on the stability of submesoscale lateral fronts in the ocean surface mixed layer. In this investigation, the stability of lateral fronts in gradient–wind balance to two-dimensional (down-front invariant) disturbances is analyzed using the stratified, rotating Craik–Leibovich (CL) equations. Through the action of the CL vortex force, the surface waves fundamentally alter the superinertial, two-dimensional linear stability of these fronts, with the classical symmetric instability mode being replaced by a hybrid Langmuir circulation/symmetric mode. The hybrid mode is shown to exhibit much larger growth rates than the pure symmetric mode, to exist in a regime in which the vertical Richardson number is greater than 1, and to accomplish significant cross-isopycnal transport. Nonhydrostatic numerical simulations reveal that the nonlinear evolution of this hybrid instability mode can lead to rapid, that is, superinertial, vertical restratification of the mixed layer. Paradoxically, Langmuir circulation—generally viewed as a prominent vertical mixing mechanism in the upper ocean—may thus play a role in mixed layer restratification.

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Zhongshui Zou, Shuiqing Li, Jian Huang, Peiliang Li, Jinbao Song, Jun A. Zhang, and Zhanhong Wan

Abstract

Turbulence over the mobile ocean surface has distinct properties compared to turbulence over land. Thus, findings that are based on the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget and Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST) over land may not be applicable to conditions over ocean partly because of the existence of a wave boundary layer (the lower part of atmospheric boundary layer including effects of surface waves; we used the term “WBL” in this article for convenience), where the total stress can be separated into turbulent stress and wave coherent stress. Here the turbulent stress is defined as the stress generated by wind shear and buoyancy, while the wave coherent stress accounts for the momentum transfer between ocean waves and atmosphere. In this study, applicability of the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget and the inertial dissipation method (IDM) in the context of the MOST within the WBL are examined. It was found that turbulent transport terms in the TKE budget should not be neglected when calculating the total stress under swell conditions. This was confirmed by observations made on a fixed platform. The results also suggested that turbulent stress, rather than total stress, should be used when applying the MOST within the WBL. By combining the TKE budget and MOST, our study showed that the stress computed by the traditional IDM corresponds to the turbulent stress rather than the total stress. The swell wave coherent stress should be considered when applying the IDM to calculate the stress in the WBL.

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Xuefeng Zhang, Peter C. Chu, Wei Li, Chang Liu, Lianxin Zhang, Caixia Shao, Xiaoshuang Zhang, Guofang Chao, and Yuxin Zhao

Abstract

Langmuir turbulence (LT) due to the Craik–Leibovich vortex force had a clear impact on the thermal response of the ocean mixed layer to Supertyphoon Haitang (2005) east of the Luzon Strait. This impact is investigated using a 3D wave–current coupled framework consisting of the Princeton Ocean Model with the generalized coordinate system (POMgcs) and the Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN) wave model. The Coriolis–Stokes forcing (CSF), the Craik–Leibovich vortex forcing (CLVF), and the second-moment closure model of LT developed by Harcourt are introduced into the circulation model. The coupled system is able to reproduce the upper-ocean temperature and surface mixed layer depth reasonably well during the forced stage of the supertyphoon. The typhoon-induced “cold suction” and “heat pump” processes are significantly affected by LT. Local LT mixing strengthened the sea surface cooling by more than 0.5°C in most typhoon-affected regions. Besides LT, Lagrangian advection of temperature also modulates the SST cooling, inducing a negative (positive) SST difference in the vicinity of the typhoon center (outside of the cooling region). In addition, CLVF has the same order of magnitude as the horizontal advection in the typhoon-induced strong-vorticity region. While the geostrophy is broken down during the forced stage of Haitang, CLVF can help establish and maintain typhoon-induced quasigeostrophy during and after the typhoon. Finally, the effect of LT on the countergradient turbulent flux under the supertyphoon is discussed.

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Dunxin Hu, Shijian Hu, Lixin Wu, Lei Li, Linlin Zhang, Xinyuan Diao, Zhaohui Chen, Yuanlong Li, Fan Wang, and Dongliang Yuan

Abstract

The Luzon Undercurrent (LUC) was discovered about 20 years ago by geostrophic calculation from conductivity–temperature–depth (CTD) data. But it was not directly measured until 2010. From November 2010 to July 2011, the LUC was first directly measured by acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) from a subsurface mooring at 18.0°N, 122.7°E to the east of Luzon Island. A number of new features of the LUC were identified from the measurements of the current. Its depth covers a range from 400 m to deeper than 700 m. The observed maximum velocity of the LUC, centered at about 650 m, could exceed 27.5 cm s−1, four times stronger than the one derived from previous geostrophic calculation with hydrographic data. According to the time series available, the seasonality of the LUC strength is in winter > summer > spring. Significant intraseasonal variability (ISV; 70–80 days) of the LUC is exposed. Evidence exists to suggest that a large portion of the intraseasonal variability in the LUC is related to the westward propagation of mesoscale eddies from the east of the mooring site.

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Lianxin Zhang, Xuefeng Zhang, William Perrie, Changlong Guan, Bo Dan, Chunjian Sun, Xinrong Wu, Kexiu Liu, and Dong Li

Abstract

A coupled ocean–wave–sea spray model system is used to investigate the impacts of sea spray and sea surface roughness on the response of the upper ocean to the passage of the Super Typhoon Haitang. Sea spray–mediated heat and momentum fluxes are derived from an improved version of Fairall’s heat fluxes formulation and Andreas’s sea spray–mediated momentum flux models. For winds ranging from low to extremely high speeds, a new parameterization scheme for the sea surface roughness is developed, in which the effects of wave state and sea spray are introduced. In this formulation, the drag coefficient has minimal values over the right quadrant of the typhoon track, along which the typhoon-generated waves are longer, smoother, and older, compared to other quadrants. Using traditional interfacial air–sea turbulent (sensible, latent, and momentum) fluxes, the sea surface cooling response to Typhoon Haitang is overestimated by 1°C, which can be compensated by the effects of sea spray and ocean waves on the right side of the storm. Inclusion of sea spray–mediated turbulent fluxes and sea surface roughness, modulated by ocean waves, gives enhanced cooling along the left edges of the cooling area by 0.2°C, consistent with the upper ocean temperature observations.

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Zhongshui Zou, Dongliang Zhao, Jun A. Zhang, Shuiqing Li, Yinhe Cheng, Haibin Lv, and Xin Ma

Abstract

The anomalous phenomena induced by the prevailing swell at low wind speeds prevent a complete understanding of air–sea interaction processes. Many studies have considered this complex problem, but most have focused on near-neutral conditions. In this study, the influence of the swell on the atmospheric boundary under nonneutral conditions was addressed by extending the turbulent closure models of Makin and Kudryavtsev and the Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST; Monin and Yaglom) to the existence of swell and nonneutral conditions. It was shown that wind profiles derived from these models were consistent with each other and both departed from the traditional MOST. At low wind speeds, a supergeostrophic jet appeared on the upper edge of the wave boundary layer, which was also reported in earlier studies. Under nonneutral conditions, the influence of buoyancy was significant. The slope of the wind profile increased under stable conditions and became smoother under unstable conditions. Considering the effects of buoyancy and swell, the wind stress derived from the model agreed quantitatively with the observations.

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Lingling Xie, Enric Pallàs-Sanz, Quanan Zheng, Shuwen Zhang, Xiaolong Zong, Xiaofei Yi, and Mingming Li

Abstract

Using the generalized omega equation and cruise observations in July 2012, this study analyzes the 3D vertical circulation in the upwelling region and frontal zone east of Hainan Island, China. The results show that there is a strong frontal zone in subsurface layer along the 100-m isobath, which is characterized by density gradient of O(10−4) kg m−4 and vertical eddy diffusivity of O(10−5–10−4) m2 s−1. The kinematic deformation term S DEF, ageostrophic advection term S ADV, and vertical mixing forcing term S MIX are calculated from the observations. Their distribution patterns are featured by banded structure, that is, alternating positive–negative alongshore bands distributed in the cross-shelf direction. Correspondingly, alternating upwelling and downwelling bands appear from the coast to the deep waters. The maximum downward velocity reaches −5 × 10−5 m s−1 within the frontal zone, accompanied by the maximum upward velocity of 7 × 10−5 m s−1 on two sides. The dynamic diagnosis indicates that S ADV contributes most to the coastal upwelling, while term S DEF, which is dominated by the ageostrophic component S DEFa, plays a dominant role in the frontal zone. The vertical mixing forcing term S MIX, which includes the momentum and buoyancy flux terms S MOM and S BUO, is comparable to S DEF and S ADV in the upper ocean, but negligible below the thermocline. The effect of the vertical mixing on the vertical velocity is mainly concentrated at depths with relatively large eddy diffusivity and eddy diffusivity gradient in the frontal zone.

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Yilong Lyu, Yuanlong Li, Jianing Wang, Jing Duan, Xiaohui Tang, Chuanyu Liu, Linlin Zhang, Qiang Ma, and Fan Wang

Abstract

Mooring measurements at ~140°E in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean documented greatly intensified eastward subsurface currents, which largely represent the nascent Equatorial Undercurrent, to ~67 cm s−1 in boreal summer of 2016. The eastward currents occupied the entire upper 500 m while the westward surface currents nearly disappeared. Historical in situ data observed similar variations after most El Niño events. Further analysis combining satellite and reanalysis data reveals that the eastward currents observed at ~140°E are a component of an anomalous counterclockwise circulation straddling the equator, with westward current anomalies retroflecting near the western boundary and feeding southeastward current anomalies along the New Guinea coast. A 1.5-layer reduced-gravity ocean model is able to crudely reproduce these variations, and a hierarchy of sensitivity experiments is performed to understand the underlying dynamics. The anomalous circulation is largely the delayed ocean response to equatorial wind anomalies over the central-to-eastern Pacific basin emerging in the mature stage of El Niño. Downwelling Rossby waves are generated by the reflection of equatorial Kelvin waves and easterly winds in the eastern Pacific. Upon reaching the western Pacific, the southern lobes of Rossby waves encounter the slanted New Guinea island and deflect to the equator, establishing a local sea surface height maximum and leading to the detour of westward currents flowing from the Pacific interior. Additional experiments with edited western boundary geometry confirm the importance of topography in regulating the structure of this cross-equatorial anomalous circulation.

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Gengxin Chen, Weiqing Han, Xiaolin Zhang, Linlin Liang, Huijie Xue, Ke Huang, Yunkai He, Jian Li, and Dongxiao Wang

Abstract

Using 4-yr mooring observations and ocean circulation model experiments, this study characterizes the spatial and temporal variability of the Equatorial Intermediate Current (EIC; 200–1200 m) in the Indian Ocean and investigates the causes. The EIC is dominated by seasonal and intraseasonal variability, with interannual variability being weak. The seasonal component dominates the midbasin with a predominant semiannual period of ~166 days but weakens toward east and west where the EIC generally exhibits large intraseasonal variations. The resonant second and fourth baroclinic modes at the semiannual period make the largest contribution to the EIC, determining the overall EIC structures. The higher baroclinic modes, however, modify the EIC’s vertical structures, forming multiple cores during some time periods. The EIC intensity has an abrupt change near 73°E, which is strong to the east and weak to the west. Model simulation suggests that the abrupt change is caused primarily by the Maldives, which block the propagation of equatorial waves. The Maldives impede the equatorial Rossby waves, reducing the EIC’s standard deviation associated with reflected Rossby waves by ~48% and directly forced waves by 20%. Mode decomposition further demonstrates that the semiannual resonance amplitude of the second baroclinic mode reduces by 39% because of the Maldives. However, resonance amplitude of the four baroclinic mode is less affected, because the Maldives fall in the node region of mode 4’s resonance. The research reveals the spatiotemporal variability of the poorly understood EIC, contributing to our understanding of equatorial wave–current dynamics.

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