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David Byrne, Lukas Papritz, Ivy Frenger, Matthias Münnich, and Nicolas Gruber

Abstract

Many aspects of the coupling between the ocean and atmosphere at the mesoscale (on the order of 20–100 km) remain unknown. While recent observations from the Southern Ocean revealed that circular fronts associated with oceanic mesoscale eddies leave a distinct imprint on the overlying wind, cloud coverage, and rain, the mechanisms responsible for explaining these atmospheric changes are not well established. Here the atmospheric response above mesoscale ocean eddies is investigated utilizing a newly developed coupled atmosphere–ocean regional model [Consortium for Small-Scale Modeling–Regional Ocean Modelling System (COSMO-ROMS)] configured at a horizontal resolution of ~10 km for the South Atlantic and run for a 3-month period during austral winter of 2004. The model-simulated changes in surface wind, cloud fraction, and rain above the oceanic eddies are very consistent with the relationships inferred from satellite observations for the same region and time. From diagnosing the model’s momentum balance, it is shown that the atmospheric imprint of the oceanic eddies are driven by the modification of vertical mixing in the atmospheric boundary layer, rather than secondary flows driven by horizontal pressure gradients. This is largely due to the very limited ability of the atmosphere to adjust its temperature over the time scale it takes for an air parcel to pass over these mesoscale oceanic features. This results in locally enhanced vertical gradients between the ocean surface and the overlying air and thus a rapid change in turbulent mixing in the atmospheric boundary layer and an associated change in the vertical momentum flux.

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Carolina O. Dufour, Adele K. Morrison, Stephen M. Griffies, Ivy Frenger, Hannah Zanowski, and Michael Winton

Abstract

The Weddell Sea polynya is a large opening in the open-ocean sea ice cover associated with intense deep convection in the ocean. A necessary condition to form and maintain a polynya is the presence of a strong subsurface heat reservoir. This study investigates the processes that control the stratification and hence the buildup of the subsurface heat reservoir in the Weddell Sea. To do so, a climate model run for 200 years under preindustrial forcing with two eddying resolutions in the ocean (0.25° CM2.5 and 0.10° CM2.6) is investigated. Over the course of the simulation, CM2.6 develops two polynyas in the Weddell Sea, while CM2.5 exhibits quasi-continuous deep convection but no polynyas, exemplifying that deep convection is not a sufficient condition for a polynya to occur. CM2.5 features a weaker subsurface heat reservoir than CM2.6 owing to weak stratification associated with episodes of gravitational instability and enhanced vertical mixing of heat, resulting in an erosion of the reservoir. In contrast, in CM2.6, the water column is more stably stratified, allowing the subsurface heat reservoir to build up. The enhanced stratification in CM2.6 arises from its refined horizontal grid spacing and resolution of topography, which allows, in particular, a better representation of the restratifying effect by transient mesoscale eddies and of the overflows of dense waters along the continental slope.

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Sjoerd Groeskamp, Casimir de Lavergne, Ryan Holmes, Veronica Tamsitt, Ivy Frenger, Christopher C. Chapman, Emily Newsom, and Geoffrey J. Stanley
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Carolina O. Dufour, Stephen M. Griffies, Gregory F. de Souza, Ivy Frenger, Adele K. Morrison, Jaime B. Palter, Jorge L. Sarmiento, Eric D. Galbraith, John P. Dunne, Whit G. Anderson, and Richard D. Slater

Abstract

This study examines the role of processes transporting tracers across the Polar Front (PF) in the depth interval between the surface and major topographic sills, which this study refers to as the “PF core.” A preindustrial control simulation of an eddying climate model coupled to a biogeochemical model [GFDL Climate Model, version 2.6 (CM2.6)– simplified version of the Biogeochemistry with Light Iron Nutrients and Gas (miniBLING) 0.1° ocean model] is used to investigate the transport of heat, carbon, oxygen, and phosphate across the PF core, with a particular focus on the role of mesoscale eddies. The authors find that the total transport across the PF core results from a ubiquitous Ekman transport that drives the upwelled tracers to the north and a localized opposing eddy transport that induces tracer leakages to the south at major topographic obstacles. In the Ekman layer, the southward eddy transport only partially compensates the northward Ekman transport, while below the Ekman layer, the southward eddy transport dominates the total transport but remains much smaller in magnitude than the near-surface northward transport. Most of the southward branch of the total transport is achieved below the PF core, mainly through geostrophic currents. This study finds that the eddy-diffusive transport reinforces the southward eddy-advective transport for carbon and heat, and opposes it for oxygen and phosphate. Eddy-advective transport is likely to be the leading-order component of eddy-induced transport for all four tracers. However, eddy-diffusive transport may provide a significant contribution to the southward eddy heat transport due to strong along-isopycnal temperature gradients.

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