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J. A. Whitehead and Wei Wang

Abstract

A model of deep ocean circulation driven by turbulent mixing is produced in a long, rectangular laboratory tank. The salinity difference is substituted for the thermal difference between tropical and polar regions. Freshwater gently flows in at the top of one end, dense water enters at the same rate at the top of the other end, and an overflow in the middle removes the same amount of surface water as is pumped in. Mixing is provided by a rod extending from top to bottom of the tank and traveling back and forth at constant speed with Reynolds numbers >500. A stratified upper layer (“thermocline”) deepens from the mixing and spreads across the entire tank. Simultaneously, a turbulent plume (“deep ocean overflow”) from a dense-water source descends through the layer and supplies bottom water, which spreads over the entire tank floor and rises into the upper layer to arrest the upper-layer deepening. Data are taken over a wide range of parameters and compared to scaling theory, energetic considerations, and simple models of turbulently mixed fluid. There is approximate agreement with a simple theory for Reynolds number >1000 in experiments with a tank depth less than the thermocline depth. A simple argument shows that mixing and plume potential energy flux rates are equal in magnitude, and it is suggested that the same is approximately true for the ocean.

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Wei Wang and Rui Xin Huang

Abstract

Wind energy input into the ocean is primarily produced through surface waves. The total rate of this energy source, integrated over the World Ocean, is estimated at 60 TW, based on empirical formulas and results from a numerical model of surface waves. Thus, surface wave energy input is about 50 times the energy input to the surface geostrophic current and 20 times the total tidal dissipation rate. Most of the energy input is concentrated within the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

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Wei Wang and Rui Xin Huang

Abstract

Wind stress energy input through the surface ageostrophic currents is studied. The surface ageostrophic velocity is calculated using the classical formula of the Ekman spiral, with the Ekman depth determined from an empirical formula. The total amount of energy input over the global oceans for subinertial frequency is estimated as 2.4 TW averaged over a period from 1997 to 2002, or 2.3 TW averaged over a period from 1948 to 2002, based on daily wind stress data from NCEP–NCAR. Thus, in addition to the energy input to the near inertial waves of 0.5–0.7 TW reported by Alford and by Watanabe and Hibiya, the total energy input to the Ekman layer is estimated as 3 TW. This input is concentrated primarily over the Southern Ocean and the storm track in both the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans.

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Zheng Shen, Wei Wang, and Liming Mei

Abstract

One central problem in the study of wind-generated gravity waves is the energy balancing process in the equilibrium spectral subrange. In considering the predicted equilibrium spectral forms from physical models proposed by Kitaigorodskii, other investigators accepted that the statistical equilibrium state is effectively characterized by the wave action conservation law: δEt+C⃗g·∇E = 0, where E is the wave energy spectrum and C⃗g = ∇kω(k) is the group velocity. Here the continuous wavelet transform is used to analyze typical sets of wind-generated gravity wave data obtained both in the ocean and in a wind-wave channel. This “space scale” analysis is shown to provide the first visual evidence that when the fetch is not very short, the wave action conservation law mentioned above is not convenient to describe the dynamics of the wave components in the equilibrium range estimated from its energy spectrum.

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Ling Ling Liu, Wei Wang, and Rui Xin Huang

Abstract

Wind stress and tidal dissipation are the most important sources of mechanical energy for maintaining the oceanic general circulation. The contribution of mechanical energy due to tropical cyclones can be a vitally important factor in regulating the oceanic general circulation and its variability. However, previous estimates of wind stress energy input were based on low-resolution wind stress data in which strong nonlinear events, such as tropical cyclones, were smoothed out.

Using a hurricane–ocean coupled model constructed from an axisymmetric hurricane model and a three-layer ocean model, the rate of energy input to the world’s oceans induced by tropical cyclones over the period from 1984 to 2003 was estimated. The energy input is estimated as follows: 1.62 TW to the surface waves and 0.10 TW to the surface currents (including 0.03 TW to the near-inertial motions). The rate of gravitational potential energy increase due to tropical cyclones is 0.05 TW. Both the energy input from tropical cyclones and the increase of gravitational potential energy of the ocean show strong interannual and decadal variability with an increasing rate of 16% over the past 20 years. The annual mean diapycnal upwelling induced by tropical cyclones over the past 20 years is estimated as 39 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). Owing to tropical cyclones, diapycnal mixing in the upper ocean (below the mixed layer) is greatly enhanced. Within the regimes of strong activity of tropical cyclones, the increase of diapycnal diffusivity is on the order of (1 − 6) × 10−4 m2 s−1. The tropical cyclone–related energy input and diapycnal mixing may play an important role in climate variability, ecology, fishery, and environments.

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Chuan Jiang Huang, Wei Wang, and Rui Xin Huang

Abstract

The circulation in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is studied in a series of numerical experiments based on an isopycnal coordinate model. The model is subject to monthly mean climatology of wind stress and surface thermohaline forcing. In response to decadal variability in the diapycnal mixing coefficient, sea surface temperature and other properties of the circulation system oscillate periodically. The strongest sea surface temperature anomaly appears in the geographic location of Niño-3 region with the amplitude on the order of 0.5°C, if the model is subject to a 30-yr sinusoidal oscillation in diapycnal mixing coefficient that varies between 0.03 × 10−4 and 0.27 × 10−4 m2 s−1. Changes in diapycnal mixing coefficient of this amplitude are within the bulk range consistent with the external mechanical energy input in the global ocean, especially when considering the great changes of tropical cyclones during the past decades. Thus, time-varying diapycnal mixing associated with changes in wind energy input into the ocean may play a nonnegligible role in decadal climate variability in the equatorial circulation and climate.

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Xiaodong Huang, Zhaoyun Wang, Zhiwei Zhang, Yunchao Yang, Chun Zhou, Qingxuan Yang, Wei Zhao, and Jiwei Tian

Abstract

The role of mesoscale eddies in modulating the semidiurnal internal tide (SIT) in the northern South China Sea (SCS) is examined using the data from a cross-shaped mooring array. From November 2013 to January 2014, an anticyclonic eddy (AE) and cyclonic eddy (CE) pair crossed the westward SIT beam originating in Luzon Strait. Observations showed that, because of the current and stratification modulations by the eddy pair, the propagation speed of the mode-1 SIT sped up (slowed down) by up to 0.7 m s−1 (0.4 m s−1) within the AE’s (CE’s) southern portion. As a result of the spatially varying phase speed, the mode-1 SIT wave crest was clockwise rotated (counterclockwise rotated) within the AE (CE) core, while it exhibited convex and concave (concave and convex) patterns on the southern and northern peripheries of the AE (CE), respectively. In mid-to-late November, most of the mode-1 SIT energy was refracted by the AE away from Dongsha Island toward the north part of the northern SCS, which resulted in enhanced internal solitary waves (ISWs) there. Corresponding to the energy refraction, responses of the depth-integrated mode-1 SIT energy to the eddies were generally in phase at the along-beam-direction moorings but out of phase in the south and north parts of the northern SCS at the cross-beam-direction moorings. From late December to early January, intensified mode-2 SIT was observed, whose energy was likely transferred from the mode-1 SIT through eddy–wave interactions. The observation results reported here are helpful to improve the capability to predict internal tides and ISWs in the northern SCS.

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Jun Wei, M. T. Li, P. Malanotte-Rizzoli, A. L. Gordon, and D. X. Wang

Abstract

Based on a high-resolution (0.1° × 0.1°) regional ocean model covering the entire northern Pacific, this study investigated the seasonal and interannual variability of the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) and the South China Sea Throughflow (SCSTF) as well as their interactions in the Sulawesi Sea. The model efficiency in simulating the general circulations of the western Pacific boundary currents and the ITF/SCSTF through the major Indonesian seas/straits was first validated against the International Nusantara Stratification and Transport (INSTANT) data, the OFES reanalysis, and results from previous studies. The model simulations of 2004–12 were then analyzed, corresponding to the period of the INSTANT program. The results showed that, derived from the North Equatorial Current (NEC)–Mindanao Current (MC)–Kuroshio variability, the Luzon–Mindoro–Sibutu flow and the Mindanao–Sulawesi flow demonstrate opposite variability before flowing into the Sulawesi Sea. Although the total transport of the Mindanao–Sulawesi flow is much larger than that of the Luzon–Mindoro–Sibutu flow, their variability amplitudes are comparable but out of phase and therefore counteract each other in the Sulawesi Sea. Budget analysis of the two major inflows revealed that the Luzon–Mindoro–Sibutu flow is enhanced southward during winter months and El Niño years, when more Kuroshio water intrudes into the SCS. This flow brings more buoyant SCS water into the western Sulawesi Sea through the Sibutu Strait, building up a west-to-east pressure head anomaly against the Mindanao–Sulawesi inflow and therefore resulting in a reduced outflow into the Makassar Strait. The situation is reversed in the summer months and La Niña years, and this process is shown to be more crucially important to modulate the Makassar ITF’s interannual variability than the Luzon–Karimata flow that is primarily driven by seasonal monsoons.

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