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T. Radko, A. Bulters, J. D. Flanagan, and J.-M. Campin

Abstract

Three-dimensional dynamics of thermohaline staircases are investigated using a series of basin-scale staircase-resolving numerical simulations. The computational domain and forcing fields are chosen to reflect the size and structure of the North Atlantic subtropical thermocline. Salt-finger transport is parameterized using the flux-gradient formulation based on a suite of recent direct numerical simulations. Analysis of the spontaneous generation of thermohaline staircases suggests that thermohaline layering is a product of the gamma instability, associated with the variation of the flux ratio with the density ratio . After their formation, numerical staircases undergo a series of merging events, which systematically increase the size of layers. Ultimately, the system evolves into a steady equilibrium state with pronounced layers 20–50 m thick. The size of the region occupied by thermohaline staircases is controlled by the competition between turbulent mixing and double diffusion. Assuming, in accordance with observations, that staircases form when the density ratio is less than the critical value of , the authors arrive at an indirect estimate of the characteristic turbulent diffusivity in the subtropical thermocline.

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John Marshall, David Ferreira, J-M. Campin, and Daniel Enderton

Abstract

Numerical experiments are described that pertain to the climate of a coupled atmosphere–ocean–ice system in the absence of land, driven by modern-day orbital and CO2 forcing. Millennial time-scale simulations yield a mean state in which ice caps reach down to 55° of latitude and both the atmosphere and ocean comprise eastward- and westward-flowing zonal jets, whose structure is set by their respective baroclinic instabilities. Despite the zonality of the ocean, it is remarkably efficient at transporting heat meridionally through the agency of Ekman transport and eddy-driven subduction. Indeed the partition of heat transport between the atmosphere and ocean is much the same as the present climate, with the ocean dominating in the Tropics and the atmosphere in the mid–high latitudes. Variability of the system is dominated by the coupling of annular modes in the atmosphere and ocean. Stochastic variability inherent to the atmospheric jets drives variability in the ocean. Zonal flows in the ocean exhibit decadal variability, which, remarkably, feeds back to the atmosphere, coloring the spectrum of annular variability. A simple stochastic model can capture the essence of the process. Finally, it is briefly reviewed how the aquaplanet can provide information about the processes that set the partition of heat transport and the climate of Earth.

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J. M. Beckers, H. Burchard, J. M. Campin, E. Deleersnijder, and P. P. Mathieu

Abstract

No abstract available.

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Nadya T. Vinogradova, Rui M. Ponte, Katherine J. Quinn, Mark E. Tamisiea, Jean-Michel Campin, and James L. Davis

Abstract

The oceanic response to surface loading, such as that related to atmospheric pressure, freshwater exchange, and changes in the gravity field, is essential to our understanding of sea level variability. In particular, so-called self-attraction and loading (SAL) effects caused by the redistribution of mass within the land–atmosphere–ocean system can have a measurable impact on sea level. In this study, the nature of SAL-induced variability in sea level is examined in terms of its equilibrium (static) and nonequilibrium (dynamic) components, using a general circulation model that implicitly includes the physics of SAL. The additional SAL forcing is derived by decomposing ocean mass anomalies into spherical harmonics and then applying Love numbers to infer associated crustal displacements and gravitational shifts. This implementation of SAL physics incurs only a relatively small computational cost. Effects of SAL on sea level amount to about 10% of the applied surface loading on average but depend strongly on location. The dynamic component exhibits large-scale basinwide patterns, with considerable contributions from subweekly time scales. Departures from equilibrium decrease toward longer time scales but are not totally negligible in many places. Ocean modeling studies should benefit from using a dynamical implementation of SAL as used here.

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