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  • Author or Editor: RAFFAELE FERRARI x
  • The Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES) x
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Louis-Philippe Nadeau and Raffaele Ferrari

Abstract

Eddy-permitting simulations are used to show that basinlike gyres can be observed in the large-scale barotropic flow of a wind-driven channel with a meridional topographic ridge. This is confirmed using both two-layer quasigeostrophic and 25-level primitive equation models at high horizontal resolution. Comparing results from simulations with and without the topographic ridge, it is shown that the zonal baroclinic transport in the channel increases with increasing wind stress when the bottom topography is flat but not when there is a meridional ridge. The saturation of transport for increasing wind occurs in conjunction with the development of recirculating gyres in the large-scale barotropic streamfunction. This suggests that the total circulation can be thought of as a superposition of a gyre mode (which has zero circumpolar transport) and a free circumpolar mode (which contains all of the transport). Basinlike gyres arise in the channel because the topography steers the barotropic streamlines and supports a frictional boundary layer similar to the more familiar ones observed along western boundaries. The gyre mode is thus closely linked with the bottom form stress exerted by the along-ridge flow and provides the sink for the wind momentum input. In this framework, any increase in wind forcing spins a stronger gyre as opposed to feeding the circumpolar transport. This hypothesis is supported with a suite of experiments where key parameters are carried over a wide range: wind stress, wind stress curl, ridge height, channel length, and bottom friction.

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Matthew R. Mazloff, Raffaele Ferrari, and Tapio Schneider

Abstract

The Southern Ocean (SO) limb of the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) is characterized by three vertically stacked cells, each with a transport of about 10 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). The buoyancy transport in the SO is dominated by the upper and middle MOC cells, with the middle cell accounting for most of the buoyancy transport across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. A Southern Ocean state estimate for the years 2005 and 2006 with ⅙° resolution is used to determine the forces balancing this MOC. Diagnosing the zonal momentum budget in density space allows an exact determination of the adiabatic and diapycnal components balancing the thickness-weighted (residual) meridional transport. It is found that, to lowest order, the transport consists of an eddy component, a directly wind-driven component, and a component in balance with mean pressure gradients. Nonvanishing time-mean pressure gradients arise because isopycnal layers intersect topography or the surface in a circumpolar integral, leading to a largely geostrophic MOC even in the latitude band of Drake Passage. It is the geostrophic water mass transport in the surface layer where isopycnals outcrop that accomplishes the poleward buoyancy transport.

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Dhruv Balwada, Joseph H. LaCasce, Kevin G. Speer, and Raffaele Ferrari

Abstract

Stirring in the subsurface Southern Ocean is examined using RAFOS float trajectories, collected during the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES), along with particle trajectories from a regional eddy permitting model. A central question is the extent to which the stirring is local, by eddies comparable in size to the pair separation, or nonlocal, by eddies at larger scales. To test this, we examine metrics based on averaging in time and in space. The model particles exhibit nonlocal dispersion, as expected for a limited resolution numerical model that does not resolve flows at scales smaller than ~10 days or ~20–30 km. The different metrics are less consistent for the RAFOS floats; relative dispersion, kurtosis, and relative diffusivity suggest nonlocal dispersion as they are consistent with the model within error, while finite-size Lyapunov exponents (FSLE) suggests local dispersion. This occurs for two reasons: (i) limited sampling of the inertial length scales and a relatively small number of pairs hinder statistical robustness in time-based metrics, and (ii) some space-based metrics (FSLE, second-order structure functions), which do not average over wave motions and are reflective of the kinetic energy distribution, are probably unsuitable to infer dispersion characteristics if the flow field includes energetic wave motions that do not disperse particles. The relative diffusivity, which is also a space-based metric, allows averaging over waves to infer the dispersion characteristics. Hence, given the error characteristics of the metrics and data used here, the stirring in the DIMES region is likely to be nonlocal at scales of 5–100 km.

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Michael Bates, Ross Tulloch, John Marshall, and Raffaele Ferrari

Abstract

Observations and theory suggest that lateral mixing by mesoscale ocean eddies only reaches its maximum potential at steering levels, surfaces at which the propagation speed of eddies approaches that of the mean flow. Away from steering levels, mixing is strongly suppressed because the mixing length is smaller than the eddy scale, thus reducing the mixing rates. The suppression is particularly pronounced in strong currents where mesoscale eddies are most energetic. Here, a framework for parameterizing eddy mixing is explored that attempts to capture this suppression. An expression of the surface eddy diffusivity proposed by Ferrari and Nikurashin is evaluated using observations of eddy kinetic energy, eddy scale, and eddy propagation speed. The resulting global maps of eddy diffusivity have a broad correspondence with recent estimates of diffusivity based on the rate at which tracer contours are stretched by altimetric-derived surface currents. Finally, the expression for the eddy diffusivity is extrapolated in the vertical to infer the eddy-induced meridional heat transport and the overturning streamfunction.

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Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, Kurt L. Polzin, Raffaele Ferrari, Jan D. Zika, and Alexander Forryan

Abstract

The relative roles of isoneutral stirring by mesoscale eddies and dianeutral stirring by small-scale turbulence in setting the large-scale temperature–salinity relation of the Southern Ocean against the action of the overturning circulation are assessed by analyzing a set of shear and temperature microstructure measurements across Drake Passage in a “triple decomposition” framework. It is shown that a picture of mixing and overturning across a region of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) may be constructed from a relatively modest number of microstructure profiles. The rates of isoneutral and dianeutral stirring are found to exhibit distinct, characteristic, and abrupt variations: most notably, a one to two orders of magnitude suppression of isoneutral stirring in the upper kilometer of the ACC frontal jets and an order of magnitude intensification of dianeutral stirring in the subpycnocline and deepest layers of the ACC. These variations balance an overturning circulation with meridional flows of O(1) mm s−1 across the ACC’s mean thermohaline structure. Isoneutral and dianeutral stirring play complementary roles in balancing the overturning, with isoneutral processes dominating in intermediate waters and the Upper Circumpolar Deep Water and dianeutral processes prevailing in lighter and denser layers.

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Dhruv Balwada, Kevin G. Speer, Joseph H. LaCasce, W. Brechner Owens, John Marshall, and Raffaele Ferrari

Abstract

The large-scale middepth circulation and eddy diffusivities in the southeast Pacific Ocean and Scotia Sea sectors between 110° and 45°W of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) are described based on a subsurface quasi-isobaric RAFOS-float-based Lagrangian dataset. These RAFOS float data were collected during the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES). The mean flow, adjusted to a common 1400-m depth, shows the presence of jets in the time-averaged sense with speeds of 6 cm s−1 in the southeast Pacific Ocean and upward of 13 cm s−1 in the Scotia Sea. These jets appear to be locked to topography in the Scotia Sea but, aside from negotiating a seamount chain, are mostly free of local topographic constraints in the southeast Pacific Ocean. The eddy kinetic energy (EKE) is higher than the mean kinetic energy everywhere in the sampled domain by about 50%. The magnitude of the EKE increases drastically (by a factor of 2 or more) as the current crosses over the Hero and Shackleton fracture zones into the Scotia Sea. The meridional isopycnal stirring shows lateral and vertical variations with local eddy diffusivities as high as 2800 ± 600 m2 s−1 at 700 m decreasing to 990 ± 200 m2 s−1 at 1800 m in the southeast Pacific Ocean. However, the cross-ACC diffusivity in the southeast Pacific Ocean is significantly lower, with values of 690 ± 150 and 1000 ± 200 m2 s−1 at shallow and deep levels, respectively, due to the action of jets. The cross-ACC diffusivity in the Scotia Sea is about 1200 ± 500 m2 s−1.

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Ross Tulloch, Raffaele Ferrari, Oliver Jahn, Andreas Klocker, Joseph LaCasce, James R. Ledwell, John Marshall, Marie-Jose Messias, Kevin Speer, and Andrew Watson

Abstract

The first direct estimate of the rate at which geostrophic turbulence mixes tracers across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is presented. The estimate is computed from the spreading of a tracer released upstream of Drake Passage as part of the Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES). The meridional eddy diffusivity, a measure of the rate at which the area of the tracer spreads along an isopycnal across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, is 710 ± 260 m2 s−1 at 1500-m depth. The estimate is based on an extrapolation of the tracer-based diffusivity using output from numerical tracers released in a one-twentieth of a degree model simulation of the circulation and turbulence in the Drake Passage region. The model is shown to reproduce the observed spreading rate of the DIMES tracer and suggests that the meridional eddy diffusivity is weak in the upper kilometer of the water column with values below 500 m2 s−1 and peaks at the steering level, near 2 km, where the eddy phase speed is equal to the mean flow speed. These vertical variations are not captured by ocean models presently used for climate studies, but they significantly affect the ventilation of different water masses.

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