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William E. Johns
and
Friedrich Schott

Abstract

Current meter observations were collected from a three-dimensional array moored in the Florida Straits between December 1983 and June 1984 as part of the Subtropical Atlantic Climate Studies (STACS) program. Approximately one-fourth of the total subinertial velocity and temperature variance contained in these records is associated with meandering of the Florida Current on time scales ranging from several days to a few weeks. There approach to be no strong correlation between the occurrence of meanders and variations in Florida Current volume transport or local wind forcing.

Utilizing frequency-domain empirical mode analysis we find the most coherent, energetic meandering signals within two limited frequency bands centered near periods of 12 days and 5 days. These meanders propagate downstream (northward) with phase speeds and wavelengths of approximately (28 km d−1, 340 km) and (36 km d−1, 170 km) respectively. Periodic waveforms composed from these modes indicate an asymmetric meander pattern with wave crests and troughs leading on the eastern side of the Florida Straits. These meanders appear to be giving up significant energy to the mean flow through up-gradient eddy momentum and buoyancy fluxes in the cyclonic shear zone of the Florida Current, with the net energy transfer being generally dominated by barotropic (eddy momentum flux) processes.

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Tiago Carrilho Biló
and
William E. Johns

Abstract

The mean North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW, 1000 < z < 5000 m) circulation and deep western boundary current (DWBC) variability offshore of Abaco, Bahamas, at 26.5°N are investigated from nearly two decades of velocity and hydrographic observations, and outputs from a 30-yr-long eddy-resolving global simulation. Observations at 26.5°N and Argo-derived geostrophic velocities show the presence of a mean Abaco Gyre spanning the NADW layer, consisting of a closed cyclonic circulation between approximately 24° and 30°N and 72° and 77°W. The southward-flowing portion of this gyre (the DWBC) is constrained to within ~150 km of the western boundary with a mean transport of ~30 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). Offshore of the DWBC, the data show a consistent northward recirculation with net transports varying from 6.5 to 16 Sv. Current meter records spanning 2008–17 supported by the numerical simulation indicate that the DWBC transport variability is dominated by two distinct types of fluctuations: 1) periods of 250–280 days that occur regularly throughout the time series and 2) energetic oscillations with periods between 400 and 700 days that occur sporadically every 5–6 years and force the DWBC to meander far offshore for several months. The shorter-period variations are related to DWBC meandering caused by eddies propagating southward along the continental slope at 24°–30°N, while the longer-period oscillations appear to be related to large anticyclonic eddies that slowly propagate northwestward counter to the DWBC flow between ~20° and 26.5°N. Observational and theoretical evidence suggest that these two types of variability might be generated, respectively, by DWBC instability processes and Rossby waves reflecting from the western boundary.

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Hartmut Peters
and
William E. Johns
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Hartmut Peters
and
William E. Johns

Abstract

Turbulence in the Red Sea outflow plume in the western Gulf of Aden was observed with an upward-looking, five-beam, 600-kHz acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP). The “Bottom Lander” ADCP was deployed on the seafloor in two narrow, topographically confined outflow channels south of Bab el Mandeb for periods of 18–40 h at three locations at 376-, 496-, and 772-m depths. Two deployments were taken during the winter season of maximum outflow from the Red Sea and two in the summer season of minimum outflow. These short-term observations exhibit red velocity spectra with high-frequency fluctuations of typically a few centimeters per second RMS velocity during strong plume flow as well as strong subtidal variations. In one winter season event, the plume flow was reduced by a factor of 4 over an 18-h time span. In variance-preserving form, velocity spectra show a separation at frequencies of 0.3–3 cycles per hour between low-frequency and high-frequency signals. The latter show significant coherence between horizontal and vertical velocity components; hence they carried turbulent stress. Based on a comparison with velocity spectra from atmospheric mixed-layer observations, the authors argue that large variance at frequencies of the order of 1 cph was possibly associated with bottom-generated, upward-propagating internal waves. One coherent feature that matched such waves was observed directly. Higher frequencies correspond to turbulent motions of energy-carrying scales. The turbulent Reynolds stress at heights above the bottom between 4 and 30–40 m was computed for most of the ADCP observations. Near the bottom, the streamwise turbulent stress and the streamwise velocity followed a quadratic drag law with drag coefficients ranging from 0.002 to 0.008. There was also significant spanwise stress, hinting at the three-dimensional nature of the boundary layer flow. The time–height variations of the stress and its spectrum proved to be complex, one of its most striking features being angles of up to ∼40° between the direction of the stress and that of the low-frequency flow. The turbulent shear production and eddy viscosity were also examined. On the technical side, the paper discusses the role of the fifth, center-beam velocity measurements in correcting for instrument tilt along with the effect of beam spreading in the 30° Janus configuration of the “regular” four ADCP beams. Instrumental noise and detection limits for the stress are also established.

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Silvia Matt
and
William E. Johns

Abstract

The Red Sea outflow exhibits strong seasonal variability in outflow transport due to effects of monsoon winds and seasonal fluctuations in buoyancy forcing. As it descends the continental slope in the western Gulf of Aden, it entrains significantly less-dense near-surface water, which itself varies on seasonal time scales. High-resolution hydrographic and direct velocity data collected during the 2001 Red Sea Outflow Experiment (REDSOX) are used herein to characterize and quantify the pathways of the Red Sea Outflow Water (RSOW) and the associated entrainment of Gulf of Aden Water. The outflow transport exhibits a maximum in winter of about 0.29 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) at the exit of the Bab-el-Mandeb and approximately doubles to 0.56 Sv as it descends into the Gulf of Aden and entrains ambient water. In summer, the outflow is much weaker, reaching about 0.06 Sv at the strait and about 0.18 Sv downstream. The outflow plume divides into three distinct branches in winter, consisting of descending branches along two bathymetrically confined channels (the “Northern” and “Southern” channels, respectively), and an adjusted intrusion layer at shallower depths in the water column. Estimates of transport of “pure” Red Sea Outflow Water through salt flux conservation show the general partitioning of the outflow between the individual plumes, where the Northern Channel (NC) accounts for 52% of Red Sea Outflow Water, the Southern Channel (SC) carries 31%, and the intrusion layer (IL) the remaining 17%. The results also indicate that the transport of Red Sea Outflow Water is subject to considerable synoptic temporal variability that is unresolved by the present study.

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Hartmut Peters
and
William E. Johns

Abstract

South of the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, saline Red Sea Water flows downslope into the Gulf of Aden mainly along the narrow 130-km-long “Northern Channel” (NC) and the shorter and wider “Southern Channel” (SC). In the NC, the Red Sea plume simultaneously exhibited weak entrainment into a 35–120-m-thick, weakly stratified bottom layer while a 35–285-m-thick interfacial layer above showed signs of vigorous mixing, overturns up to 30 m thick, and extensive zones of gradient Richardson numbers below 1/4. Turbulent overturning scales, or Thorpe scales, are extracted from regular CTD profiles and equated to Ozmidov scales. On this basis, interfacial mixing is quantified in terms of estimated turbulent dissipation rates, vertical turbulent salt flux, and interfacial stress. Even though these estimates are subject to significant uncertainty, they demonstrate the intensity of mixing during strong winter outflow in terms of eddy diffusivities Kρ on the order of 10−2 m2 s−1. The large Kρ occur in strong stratification such that vertical turbulent salt fluxes are also large. Along the NC, relative maxima of Kρ correspond to maxima in the bulk Froude number. Direct short-term measurements of the Reynolds stress just above the seafloor at two locations, one in the NC and one in the SC, allow comparisons of the bottom stress τb with the interfacial turbulent stress τi . The ratio τi /τb shows large scatter in a small sample, with maximum values on the order of 1. An outlines procedures of making and reducing lowered acoustic Doppler current profiler measurements optimized for observing descending plumes.

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William E. Johns
and
Sarantis S. Sofianos

Abstract

The exchange between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean on synoptic time scales (days to weeks) is investigated using moored current meter data collected in the strait of Bab el Mandeb from June 1995 to November 1996. Transport variations through the strait on these time scales can reach amplitudes of up to 0.6 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), or nearly twice as large as the mean rate of exchange through the strait driven by annual evaporation over the Red Sea. The synoptic transport variability appears to be driven by two primary forcing mechanisms: 1) local wind stress variability over the strait and 2) variation in the large-scale barometric pressure over the Red Sea. Simple models of the forced response are developed and are shown to reproduce the essential features of the observations. The response to barometric pressure forcing over the Red Sea is fundamentally barotropic, whereas the response to along-strait winds is barotropic at high frequencies and tends toward a two-layer exchange at low frequencies. The responses to both types of forcing show enhanced amplitude at the Helmholtz resonance frequency for the Red Sea, which occurs at a period of about 5 days. A linear two-layer model, incorporating both types of forcing and a reasonable frictional parameterization, is shown to account for about 70% of the observed transport variance within the strait.

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William D. Hibler III
and
John E. Walsh

Abstract

Some results from a series of three-year aperiodic simulations of the Northern Hemisphere sea ice cover are reported. The simulations employ the dynamic-thermodynamics sea ice model developed by Hibler (1979) and use a one-day timestep on a 35×31 grid with a resolution of 222 km. Atmospheric data from the years 1973–75 are used to drive the simulations.

The simulations yield a seasonal cycle with excessive amounts of ice in the North Atlantic during winter and with somewhat excessive amounts of open water in the central Arctic during summer. Despite the seasonal bias, the simulated and observed interannual fluctuations are similar in magnitude and are positively correlated. The correlations with observed data are noticeably smaller when dynamical processes are omitted from the model. The simulated outflow of ice through the Greenland-Spitsbergen passage undergoes large fluctuations both seasonally and on an interannual basis. The outflow correlates highly with the simulated fluctuations of ice coverage in the North Atlantic sector and positively with the observed fluctuations of ice coverage in the same sector.

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Johna E. Rudzin
,
Lynn K. Shay
, and
William E. Johns

Abstract

Multiple studies have shown that reduced sea surface temperature (SST) cooling occurs under tropical cyclones (TCs) where a fresh surface layer and subsurface halocline exist. Reduced SST cooling in these scenarios has been attributed to a barrier layer, an upper-ocean feature in the tropical global oceans in which a halocline resides within the isothermal mixed layer. Because upper-ocean stratification theoretically reduces ocean mixing induced by winds, the barrier layer is thought to reduce SST cooling during TC passage, sustaining heat and moisture fluxes into the storm. This research examines how both the inclusion of salinity and upper-ocean salinity stratification influences SST cooling for a variety of upper-ocean thermal regimes using one-dimensional (1D) ocean mixed layer (OML) models. The Kraus–Turner, Price–Weller–Pinkel, and Pollard–Rhines–Thompson 1D OML schemes are used to examine SST cooling and OML deepening during 30 m s−1 wind forcing (~category 1 TC) for both temperature-only and temperature–salinity stratification cases. Generally, the inclusion of salinity (a barrier layer) reduces SST cooling for all temperature regimes. However, results suggest that SST cooling sensitivities exist depending on thermal regime, salinity stratification, and the 1D OML model used. Upper-ocean thermal and haline characteristics are put into context of SST cooling with the creation of a barrier layer baroclinic wave speed to emphasize the influence of salinity stratification on upper-ocean response under TC wind forcing.

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Tiago Carrilho Biló
,
William E Johns
, and
Jian Zhao

Abstract

The dynamics of the deep recirculation offshore of the deep western boundary current (DWBC) between 15° and 30°N within the upper North Atlantic Deep Water layer (1000 ≤ z ≤ 3000 m) is investigated with two different eddy-resolving numerical simulations. Despite some differences in the recirculation cells, our assessment of the modeled deep isopycnal circulation patterns (36.77 ≤ σ 2 ≤ 37.06 kg m−3) shows that both simulations predict the DWBC flowing southward along the continental slope, while the so-called Abaco Gyre and two additional cyclonic cells recirculate waters northward in the interior. These cells are a few degrees wide, located along the DWBC path, and characterized by potential vorticity (PV) changes occurring along their mean streamlines. The analysis of the mean PV budget reveals that these changes result from the action of eddy forcing that tends to erode the PV horizontal gradients. The lack of a major upper-ocean boundary current within the study region, and the fact that the strongest eddy forcing is constrained within a few hundreds of kilometers of the western boundary, suggest that the DWBC is the primary source of eddy forcing. Finally, the eddies responsible for forcing the recirculation have dominant time scales between 100 and 300 days, which correspond to the primary observed variability scales of the DWBC transport at 26.5°N.

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