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  • Author or Editor: Vassil Roussenov x
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Richard G. Williams and Vassil Roussenov


The role of sidewalls in determining the interior distribution of potential vorticity (PV) is investigated using eddy-resolving isopycnic experiments. The layer model is integrated at 1 16° resolution for a wind-driven double gyre with either vertical or sloping sidewalls. If there are vertical sidewalls, eddy stirring leads to PV homogenization within unforced, interior density layers. If there are sloping sidewalls, frictional torques lead to bands of low and high PV being formed along the western boundary of the subpolar and subtropical gyres, respectively. These regions of low and high PV are transferred into the interior by a separated jet at the intergyre boundary. Over a limited domain, this injection of the PV contrast can prevent eddy homogenization from occurring. However, over a larger-scale domain, eddies provide a downgradient transfer of PV, reducing the PV contrast downstream along the jet and enabling homogenization to occur for intermediate layers within the basin interior. Diabatic mixing along the slope can introduce low PV for intermediate layers and even mask the frictional contributions.

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Vassil Roussenov, Richard G. Williams, and Jane O'Dwyer


Low potential vorticity extends over the deep waters of the North Pacific and, possibly, the bottom waters of the North Atlantic. Isopycnic model integrations are conducted to investigate how these potential vorticity distributions are controlled, first, for an idealized double-hemisphere and, second, for the Pacific with realistic topography. Dense water is released from a southern, high-latitude source and circulates over the domain with diapycnic mixing gradually reducing its stratification. The potential vorticity contrast is large over the Southern Hemisphere, but weak over the Northern Hemisphere where the meridional changes in planetary vorticity and layer thickness oppose each other. Including an active eddy field inhibits the grounding of dense water, which increases the potential vorticity contrast in the overlying layer. Incorporating realistic topography leads to the dense fluid spreading via deep channels with tight recirculations and jets bifurcating. The experiments suggest that extensive regions of low potential vorticity are formed whenever there is both enhanced bottom mixing and a basin is filled by a single water mass entering from across the equator.

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