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Florian Le Guillou, Sammy Metref, Emmanuel Cosme, Julien Le Sommer, Clément Ubelmann, Jacques Verron, and Maxime Ballarotta

Abstract

During the past 25 years, altimetric observations of the ocean surface from space have been mapped to provide two dimensional sea surface height (SSH) fields which are crucial for scientific research and operational applications. The SSH fields can be reconstructed from conventional altimetric data using temporal and spatial interpolation. For instance, the standardDUACS products are created with an optimal interpolation method which is effective for both low temporal and low spatial resolution. However, the upcoming next-generation SWOT mission will provide very high spatial resolution but with low temporal resolution.

The present paper makes the case that this temporal-spatial discrepancy induces the need for new advanced mapping techniques involving information on the ocean dynamics. An algorithm is introduced, dubbed the BFN-QG, that uses a simple data assimilation method, the back-and-forth nudging, to interpolate altimetric data while respecting quasigeostrophic dynamics. The BFN-QG is tested in an observing system simulation experiments and compared to the DUACS products. The experiments consider as reference the high-resolution numerical model simulation NATL60 from which are produced realistic data: four conventional altimetric nadirs and SWOT data. In a combined nadirs and SWOT scenario, the BFN-QG substantially improves the mapping by reducing the root-mean-square errors and increasing the spectral effective resolution by 40km. Also, the BFN-QG method can be adapted to combine large-scale corrections from nadirs data and small-scale corrections from SWOT data so as to reduce the impact of SWOT correlated noises and still provide accurate SSH maps.

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Paul Spence, Oleg A. Saenko, Carolina O. Dufour, Julien Le Sommer, and Matthew H. England

Abstract

Meridional heat transport (MHT) in the Southern Ocean (SO) and its components are analyzed with two eddy-permitting climate models. The two models present a consistent picture of the MHT response to projected twenty-first-century changes in SO winds. In agreement with a recent analysis based on an ocean data synthesis product, much of the MHT in the SO is found to be due to the time-mean fields of meridional velocity and temperature. The change in the net MHT tends to be small relative to the interannual variability at most SO latitudes. However, both models exhibit significant changes at most latitudes south of 30°S in individual components of MHT. A simple framework wherein changes in the eddy and mean heat transports tend to compensate each other is not supported by the authors’ results. Instead, the MHT response is composed of sizeable contributions from essentially all of the MHT components, with the eddy and mean heat transports often having the same sign.

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Casimir de Lavergne, Gurvan Madec, Julien Le Sommer, A. J. George Nurser, and Alberto C. Naveira Garabato

Abstract

The abyssal ocean is primarily filled by cold, dense waters formed around Antarctica and collectively referred to as Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW). At steady state, AABW must be consumed in the ocean interior at the same rate it is produced, but how and where this consumption is achieved remains poorly understood. Here, estimates of abyssal water mass transformation by geothermal heating and parameterized internal wave–driven mixing are presented. This study uses maps of the energy input to internal waves by tidal and geostrophic motions interacting with topography combined with assumptions about the distribution of energy dissipation to evaluate dianeutral transports induced by breaking internal tides and lee waves. Geothermal transformation is assessed based on a map of geothermal heat fluxes. Under the hypotheses underlying the constructed climatologies of buoyancy fluxes, the authors calculate that locally dissipating internal tides and geothermal heating contribute, respectively, about 8 and 5 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) of AABW consumption (upwelling), mostly north of 30°S. In contrast, parameterized lee wave–driven mixing causes significant transformation only in the Southern Ocean, where it forms about 3 Sv of AABW, decreasing the mean density but enhancing the northward flow of abyssal waters. The possible role of remotely dissipating internal tides in complementing AABW consumption is explored based on idealized distributions of mixing energy. Depending mostly on the chosen vertical structure, such mixing could drive 1 to 28 Sv of additional AABW upwelling, highlighting the need to better constrain the spatial distribution of remote dissipation. Though they carry large uncertainties, these climatological transformation estimates shed light on the qualitative functioning and key unknowns of the diabatic overturning.

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Casimir de Lavergne, Gurvan Madec, Julien Le Sommer, A. J. George Nurser, and Alberto C. Naveira Garabato

Abstract

In studies of ocean mixing, it is generally assumed that small-scale turbulent overturns lose 15%–20% of their energy in eroding the background stratification. Accumulating evidence that this energy fraction, or mixing efficiency R f, significantly varies depending on flow properties challenges this assumption, however. Here, the authors examine the implications of a varying mixing efficiency for ocean energetics and deep-water mass transformation. Combining current parameterizations of internal wave-driven mixing with a recent model expressing R f as a function of a turbulence intensity parameter Reb = ε ν/νN 2, the ratio of dissipation ε ν to stratification N 2 and molecular viscosity ν, it is shown that accounting for reduced mixing efficiencies in regions of weak stratification or energetic turbulence (high Reb) strongly limits the ability of breaking internal waves to supply oceanic potential energy and drive abyssal upwelling. Moving from a fixed R f = 1/6 to a variable efficiency R f(Reb) causes Antarctic Bottom Water upwelling induced by locally dissipating internal tides and lee waves to fall from 9 to 4 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) and the corresponding potential energy source to plunge from 97 to 44 GW. When adding the contribution of remotely dissipating internal tides under idealized distributions of energy dissipation, the total rate of Antarctic Bottom Water upwelling is reduced by about a factor of 2, reaching 5–15 Sv, compared to 10–33 Sv for a fixed efficiency. The results suggest that distributed mixing, overflow-related boundary processes, and geothermal heating are more effective in consuming abyssal waters than topographically enhanced mixing by breaking internal waves. These calculations also point to the importance of accurately constraining R f(Reb) and including the effect in ocean models.

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Giovanni Abdelnur Ruggiero, Emmanuel Cosme, Jean-Michel Brankart, Julien Le Sommer, and Clement Ubelmann

Abstract

Most data assimilation algorithms require the inverse of the covariance matrix of the observation errors. In practical applications, the cost of computing this inverse matrix with spatially correlated observation errors is prohibitive. Common practices are therefore to subsample or combine the observations so that the errors of the assimilated observations can be considered uncorrelated. As a consequence, a large fraction of the available observational information is not used in practical applications. In this study, a method is developed to account for the correlations of the errors that will be present in the wide-swath sea surface height measurements, for example, the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. It basically consists of the transformation of the observation vector so that the inverse of the corresponding covariance matrix can be replaced by a diagonal matrix, thus allowing to genuinely take into account errors that are spatially correlated in physical space. Numerical experiments of ensemble Kalman filter analysis of SWOT-like observations are conducted with three different observation error covariance matrices. Results suggest that the proposed method provides an effective way to account for error correlations in the assimilation of the future SWOT data. The transformation of the observation vector proposed herein yields both a significant reduction of the root-mean-square errors and a good consistency between the filter analysis error statistics and the true error statistics.

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Yicun Zhen, Pierre Tandeo, Stéphanie Leroux, Sammy Metref, Thierry Penduff, and Julien Le Sommer

Abstract

Because of the irregular sampling pattern of raw altimeter data, many oceanographic applications rely on information from sea surface height (SSH) products gridded on regular grids where gaps have been filled with interpolation. Today, the operational SSH products are created using the simple, but robust, optimal interpolation (OI) method. If well tuned, the OI becomes computationally cheap and provides accurate results at low resolution. However, OI is not adapted to produce high-resolution and high-frequency maps of SSH. To improve the interpolation of SSH satellite observations, a data-driven approach (i.e., constructing a dynamical forecast model from the data) was recently proposed: analog data assimilation (AnDA). AnDA adaptively chooses analog situations from a catalog of SSH scenes—originating from numerical simulations or a large database of observations—which allow the temporal propagation of physical features at different scales, while each observation is assimilated. In this article, we review the AnDA and OI algorithms and compare their skills in numerical experiments. The experiments are observing system simulation experiments (OSSE) on the Lorenz-63 system and on an SSH reconstruction problem in the Gulf of Mexico. The results show that AnDA, with no necessary tuning, produces comparable reconstructions as does OI with tuned parameters. Moreover, AnDA manages to reconstruct the signals at higher frequencies than OI. Finally, an important additional feature for any interpolation method is to be able to assess the quality of its reconstruction. This study shows that the standard deviation estimated by AnDA is flow dependent, hence more informative on the reconstruction quality, than the one estimated by OI.

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Jan D. Zika, Julien Le Sommer, Carolina O. Dufour, Alberto Naveira-Garabato, and Adam Blaker

Abstract

The influence of wind forcing on variability of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is investigated using a series of eddy-permitting ocean–sea ice models. At interannual and decadal time scales the ACC transport is sensitive to both the mean strength of westerly winds along the ACC circumpolar path, consistent with zonal momentum balance theories, and sensitive to the wind stresses along the coast of Antarctica, consistent with the “free mode” theory of Hughes et al. A linear combination of the two factors explains differences in ACC transport across 11 regional quasi-equilibrium experiments. Repeated single-year global experiments show that the ACC can be robustly accelerated by both processes. Across an ensemble of simulations with realistic forcing over the second half of the twentieth century, interannual ACC transport variability owing to the free-mode mechanism exceeds that due to the zonal momentum balance mechanism by a factor of between 3.5 and 5 to one. While the ACC transport may not accelerate significantly owing to projected increases in along-ACC winds in future decades, significant changes in transport could still occur because of changes in the stress along the coast of Antarctica.

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Alice Pietri, Xavier Capet, Francesco d’Ovidio, Marina Levy, Julien Le Sommer, Jean-Marc Molines, and Hervé Giordani

Abstract

The quasi-geostrophic and the generalized omega equations are the most widely used methods to reconstruct vertical velocity (w) from in-situ data. As observational networks with much higher spatial and temporal resolutions are being designed, the question rises of identifying the approximations and scales at which an accurate estimation of w through the omega equation can be achieved and what are the critical scales and observables needed. In this paper we test different adiabatic omega reconstructions of w over several regions representative of main oceanic regimes of the global ocean in a fully eddy-resolving numerical simulation with a 1=60o horizontal resolution. We find that the best reconstructions are observed in conditions characterized by energetic turbulence and/or weak stratification where near-surface frontal processes are felt deep into the ocean interior. The quasi-geostrophic omega equation gives satisfactory results for scales larger than ~ 10 km horizontally while the improvements using a generalized formulation are substantial only in conditions where frontal turbulent processes are important (providing improvements with satisfactory reconstruction skill down to ~ 5 km in scale). The main sources of uncertainties that could be identified are related to processes responsible for ocean thermal wind imbalance (TWI), which is particularly difficult to account for (especially in observation-based studies) and to the deep flow which is generally improperly accounted for in omega reconstructions through the bottom boundary condition. Nevertheless, the reconstruction of mesoscale vertical velocities may be sufficient to estimate vertical fluxes of oceanic properties in many cases of practical interest.

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Jan D. Zika, Julien Le Sommer, Carolina O. Dufour, Jean-Marc Molines, Bernard Barnier, Pierre Brasseur, Raphaël Dussin, Thierry Penduff, Daniele Iudicone, Andrew Lenton, Gurvan Madec, Pierre Mathiot, James Orr, Emily Shuckburgh, and Frederic Vivier

Abstract

The overturning circulation of the Southern Ocean has been investigated using eddying coupled ocean–sea ice models. The circulation is diagnosed in both density–latitude coordinates and in depth–density coordinates. Depth–density coordinates follow streamlines where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is equivalent barotropic, capture the descent of Antarctic Bottom Water, follow density outcrops at the surface, and can be interpreted energetically. In density–latitude coordinates, wind-driven northward transport of light water and southward transport of dense water are compensated by standing meanders and to a lesser degree by transient eddies, consistent with previous results. In depth–density coordinates, however, wind-driven upwelling of dense water and downwelling of light water are compensated more strongly by transient eddy fluxes than fluxes because of standing meanders. Model realizations are discussed where the wind pattern of the southern annular mode is amplified. In density–latitude coordinates, meridional fluxes because of transient eddies can increase to counter changes in Ekman transport and decrease in response to changes in the standing meanders. In depth–density coordinates, vertical fluxes because of transient eddies directly counter changes in Ekman pumping.

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