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Laurie Padman and Thomas M. Dillon

Abstract

Microstructure profiles of temperatures through the diffusive thermohaline staircase above the Atlantic layer core in the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean are used to investigate the horizontal scales of layers. Daily profiles during two periods, 23 March–3 April, and 17–26 April 1985, show that diffusive steps are present throughout the 200 km drift track. A 20 hour series on 22 April, sampled at about 5 profiles per hour, indicates that particular diffusive layers can be traced for at least 600 m. The temperature of some layers varies by up to 0.01°C h−1 (30 m lateral motion); therefore, we cannot reliably trace steps in this location if the sampling distance is larger than about 15 m. Analysis of a longer time series with variable spacing from 0.4 to 5 km indicates that layers can rarely be traced between profiles more than 1 km apart.

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Robin Robertson, Laurie Padman, and Murray D. Levine

Abstract

An error in the calculation of the baroclinic pressure gradient term in the Princeton Ocean Model (POM) was identified while modeling the M2 tidal current near its critical latitude in the southern Weddell Sea. The error arises from the present calculation of density, which involves the subtraction of a background density profile from the density field calculated at each internal time step. The small displacement of sigma surface depths relative to the surface, as surface elevation changes, causes a slight error in the calculation of the vertical and horizontal gradients of potential density. The error is largest at the seabed over rapidly changing bathymetry such as the continental slope. The baroclinic pressure gradient error is typically much smaller than the Coriolis term in the momentum equations and, therefore, usually unimportant. Close to the critical latitude, however, near-resonance between the error and Coriolis terms can cause an energetic and spatially complex spurious inertial mode to develop. The error is significant when modeling tides near their critical latitudes, and will contribute to the error in the baroclinic pressure gradient in other simulations. Two methods were suggested for fixing this problem. The preferred method was tested by applying the new form of POM to the southern Weddell Sea. The new results are consistent with both current meter data and predictions of linear internal wave theory.

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S. Y. Erofeeva, Laurie Padman, and Gary Egbert

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The application of a generalized inverse approach for assimilating vessel-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler (VM-ADCP) data into numerical solutions of barotropic tides is described. The derived estimates of tidal currents can be used to detide the VM-ADCP data and expose underlying mean circulation. The methodology is illustrated with data assimilation models of tidal currents in the Ross Sea. The prior solution, obtained by solving the nonlinear shallow-water equations by time stepping with a linear bottom friction parameterization and elevation of open boundary conditions obtained from a circum-Antarctic tide model, provides reasonably good fit to most available moored current meter data. Two inverse solutions were obtained: one assimilating moored current meter records and the other assimilating three cruises of VM-ADCP data. Fitting either the mooring time series or the VM-ADCP records leads to only small changes relative to the prior solution currents, except over the shelf break where short length scale, energetic diurnal topographic vorticity waves are present. It is shown that the dynamics embedded in the representer functions provides reasonable tidal corrections even with no prior information about forcing at open boundaries.

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Laurie Padman and Ian S. F. Jones

Abstract

Statistics of Richardson number in the seasonal thermocline are determined for a simple model and from experiments over the continental shelf. The model consists of normally distributed and uncorrelated density gradient and shear (such as may be caused by an internal wave field) plus a mean shear. It is shown that the most probable Richardson number may be much lower than the Richardson number based on the mean density gradient and shear.

The distributions of Richardson number for two experiments in the seasonal thermocline in Bass Strait, between mainland Australia and Tasmania, are determined from a probe that samples velocity and temperature differences at 1 Hz, over vertical separations of 1 m. Away from surface wave frequencies the data are shown to be adequately described by the above model In both interfaces significant shear energy occurs above the maximum Brunt-Väisälä frequency of about 0.01 Hz. Judged by the temperature inversions of scales greater than one meter that were observed within the less stable interface, this shear variance leads to Richardson numbers that are subcritical for significant periods.

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Hemantha Wijesekera, Laurie Padman, Tom Dillon, Murray Levine, Clayton Paulson, and Robert Pinkel

Abstract

Several models now exist for predicting the dissipation rate of turbulent kinetic energy, ε, in the oceanic thermocline as a function of the large-scale properties of the internal gravity wave field. These models are based on the transfer of energy toward smaller vertical scales by wave-wave interactions, and their predictions are typically evaluated for a canonical internal wave field as described by Garrett and Munk. Much of the total oceanic dissipation may occur, however, in regions where the wave field deviates in some way from the canonical form. In this paper simultaneous measurements of the internal wave field and ε from a drifting ice camp in the eastern Arctic Ocean are used to evaluate the efficacy of existing models in a region with an anomalous wave field and energetic mixing. By explicitly retaining the vertical wavenumber bandwidth parameter, β*, models can still provide reasonable estimates of the dissipation rate. The amount of data required to estimate β*, is, however, substantially greater than for cases where the canonical vertical wavenumber spectrum can be assumed.

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Igor V. Polyakov, Laurie Padman, Y.-D. Lenn, Andrey Pnyushkov, Robert Rember, and Vladimir V. Ivanov

Abstract

The diffusive layering (DL) form of double-diffusive convection cools the Atlantic Water (AW) as it circulates around the Arctic Ocean. Large DL steps, with heights of homogeneous layers often greater than 10 m, have been found above the AW core in the Eurasian Basin (EB) of the eastern Arctic. Within these DL staircases, heat and salt fluxes are determined by the mechanisms for vertical transport through the high-gradient regions (HGRs) between the homogeneous layers. These HGRs can be thick (up to 5 m and more) and are frequently complex, being composed of multiple small steps or continuous stratification. Microstructure data collected in the EB in 2007 and 2008 are used to estimate heat fluxes through large steps in three ways: using the measured dissipation rate in the large homogeneous layers; utilizing empirical flux laws based on the density ratio and temperature step across HGRs after scaling to account for the presence of multiple small DL interfaces within each HGR; and averaging estimates of heat fluxes computed separately for individual small interfaces (as laminar conductive fluxes), small convective layers (via dissipation rates within small DL layers), and turbulent patches (using dissipation rate and buoyancy) within each HGR. Diapycnal heat fluxes through HGRs evaluated by each method agree with each other and range from ~2 to ~8 W m−2, with an average flux of ~3–4 W m−2. These large fluxes confirm a critical role for the DL instability in cooling and thickening the AW layer as it circulates around the eastern Arctic Ocean.

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Igor V. Polyakov, Andrey V. Pnyushkov, Robert Rember, Laurie Padman, Eddy C. Carmack, and Jennifer M. Jackson

Abstract

A 1-yr (2009/10) record of temperature and salinity profiles from Ice-Tethered Profiler (ITP) buoys in the Eurasian Basin (EB) of the Arctic Ocean is used to quantify the flux of heat from the upper pycnocline to the surface mixed layer. The upper pycnocline in the central EB is fed by the upward flux of heat from the intermediate-depth (~150–900 m) Atlantic Water (AW) layer; this flux is estimated to be ~1 W m−2 averaged over one year. Release of heat from the upper pycnocline, through the cold halocline layer to the surface mixed layer is, however, seasonally intensified, occurring more strongly in winter. This seasonal heat loss averages ~3–4 W m−2 between January and April, reducing the rate of winter sea ice formation. This study hypothesizes that the winter heat loss is driven by mixing caused by a combination of brine-driven convection associated with sea ice formation and larger vertical velocity shear below the base of the surface mixed layer (SML), enhanced by atmospheric storms and the seasonal reduction in density difference between the SML and underlying pycnocline.

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Igor V. Polyakov, Andrey V. Pnyushkov, Robert Rember, Vladimir V. Ivanov, Y.-D. Lenn, Laurie Padman, and Eddy C. Carmack

Abstract

A yearlong time series from mooring-based high-resolution profiles of water temperature and salinity from the Laptev Sea slope (2003–04; 2686-m depth; 78°26′N, 125°37′E) shows six remarkably persistent staircase layers in the depth range of ~140–350 m encompassing the upper Atlantic Water (AW) and lower halocline. Despite frequent displacement of isopycnal surfaces by internal waves and eddies and two strong AW warming pulses that passed through the mooring location in February and late August 2004, the layers preserved their properties. Using laboratory-derived flux laws for diffusive convection, the authors estimate the time-averaged diapycnal heat fluxes across the four shallower layers overlying the AW core to be ~8 W m−2. Temporal variability of these fluxes is strong, with standard deviations of ~3–7 W m−2. These fluxes provide a means for effective transfer of AW heat upward over more than a 100-m depth range toward the upper halocline. These findings suggest that double diffusion is an important mechanism influencing the oceanic heat fluxes that help determine the state of Arctic sea ice.

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Igor V. Polyakov, Tom P. Rippeth, Ilker Fer, Matthew B. Alkire, Till M. Baumann, Eddy C. Carmack, Randi Ingvaldsen, Vladimir V. Ivanov, Markus Janout, Sigrid Lind, Laurie Padman, Andrey V. Pnyushkov, and Robert Rember

Abstract

A 15-yr duration record of mooring observations from the eastern (>70°E) Eurasian Basin (EB) of the Arctic Ocean is used to show and quantify the recently increased oceanic heat flux from intermediate-depth (~150–900 m) warm Atlantic Water (AW) to the surface mixed layer and sea ice. The upward release of AW heat is regulated by the stability of the overlying halocline, which we show has weakened substantially in recent years. Shoaling of the AW has also contributed, with observations in winter 2017–18 showing AW at only 80 m depth, just below the wintertime surface mixed layer, the shallowest in our mooring records. The weakening of the halocline for several months at this time implies that AW heat was linked to winter convection associated with brine rejection during sea ice formation. This resulted in a substantial increase of upward oceanic heat flux during the winter season, from an average of 3–4 W m−2 in 2007–08 to >10 W m−2 in 2016–18. This seasonal AW heat loss in the eastern EB is equivalent to a more than a twofold reduction of winter ice growth. These changes imply a positive feedback as reduced sea ice cover permits increased mixing, augmenting the summer-dominated ice-albedo feedback.

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