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Martin Visbeck

Abstract

Lowered acoustic Doppler current profilers (LADCPs) have matured from an experimental instrument to an operational hydrographic tool to study ocean dynamics. The data processing, however, is still in a rather primitive state. First, a method to estimate bottom-track velocities using the standard water profile data was developed. Then inverse solutions are presented that enhance the standard data processing by adding external constraints such as bottom-referenced velocity profiles. Depending on the depth of the profile and the ADCP range the inclusion of bottom-track data can reduce the local velocity errors by a significant factor. The least squares framework also allows for simplified error analysis of the LADCP system and some of the trade-offs are discussed.

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Martin Visbeck

Abstract

Atmospheric pressure observations from the Southern Hemisphere are used to estimate monthly and annually averaged indexes of the southern annular mode (SAM) back to 1884. This analysis groups all relevant observations in the following four regions: one for Antarctica and three in the subtropical zone. Continuous surface pressure observations are available at a number of locations in the subtropical regions since the end of the nineteenth century. However, year-round observations in the subpolar region near the Antarctic continent began only during the 1940–60 period. The shorter Antarctic records seriously compromise the length of a traditionally estimated SAM index. To improve the situation “proxy” estimates of Antarctic sea level pressure anomalies are provided based on the concept of atmospheric mass conservation poleward of 20°S. This allows deriving a longer SAM index back to 1884. Several aspects of the new record, its statistical properties, seasonal trends, and the regional pressure anomaly correlations, are presented.

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Martin Visbeck and Alex Hall
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Martin Visbeck and Monika Rhein

Abstract

Bottom water temperatures in the central Greenland Sea have been increasing for the last two decades. The warming is most likely related to the absence of deep convective mixing, which cools and freshens the deep water. However, recent observations confirm a slow and steady increase of anthropogenic tracers such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). This points to some amount of bottom water “ventilation” in the absence of deep convective mixing and poses a challenge to our understanding of deep water renewal. One explanation for the observed trends in both temperature and CFCs is significant vertical mixing. The basin-averaged diapycnal diffusivity, required to explain both trends, k υ,av ∼ 2–3 (×10−3 m2 s−1), is very unlikely to occur in the interior of the ocean. However, a diffusivity of k υ,bbl ∼ 10−2 m2 s−1 within a 150-m thick bottom boundary layer would be sufficient to explain the deep tracer increase. The implications of a secondary circulation driven by such large boundary layer mixing are discussed.

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Martin Visbeck and Friedrich Schott

Abstract

The seasonal cycles found in moored current measurements in the equatorial Somali Current region and along the equator between 50° and 60°E are compared with the multilayer Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory model for the tropical Indian Ocean. The remote forcing of Somali Current transport variations by incident long equatorial waves from the equatorial interior subthermocline region is investigated by analyzing the model velocities of annual and semiannual period. Amplitudes and phases of linear equatorial Rossby and Kelvin waves were least-squares fitted to the model velocities between 5°S and 5°N, 55° and 86°E from 100-m to 1000-m depth. Two cases of wave fits are distinguished: the “free” Kelvin wave case, where the Kelvin waves were fitted independently, and the “reflected” Kelvin wave case, where they were coupled to the Rossby waves by the western boundary condition for a straight slanted (45° to the north) coastline. The wave field velocities explained ∼70% of the spatial variance in the equatorial model subregion and also compared reasonably well with observed current variations along the equator. At the western boundary, the short-wave alongshore transport due to reflected incident long waves was determined and found to be antisymmetric about the equator. The maximum transport variation for the semiannual period due to the short waves was about 5 × 106 m3 s−1 between 150- and 800-m depth at 3° north and south of the equator. Observational evidence for the western boundary transport variations and the sensitivity to changes in the incident wave field are discussed.

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Dirk Olbers and Martin Visbeck

Abstract

The ocean area south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) frontal system is a region of major watermass modification. Influx of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), small-scale mixing, eddy transport and diffusion, as well as the fluxes of momentum and buoyancy at the sea surface combine in a complex array of processes to generate the unique stratification of the Southern Ocean with its southward uprising isopycnals and northward flux of Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) and Antarctic Bottom Water. Comprehensive analytical models of this scenario are rare. The authors develop and apply a model based on zonally and temporally averaged theory to explain the conversion of NADW into AAIW with all of the aforementioned processes contained in an extremely simplified way. Eddies appear via a transformed Eulerian mean (TEM) approach with a conventional downgradient parameterization of the meridional density flux. The structure of the eddy coefficient is estimated from hydrographic and wind stress data by a simple inverse approach. Mixing is limited to a near-surface layer and is treated in a most simple entrainment form. The model determines the zonal mean density stratification in the Southern Ocean and the baroclinic transport of the ACC from the applied wind stress and the surface density flux and unravels the role and importance of the different processes responsible for shaping the stratification (Ekman and eddy-induced advection and pumping, mixing, surface buoyancy flux, and eddy-induced diffusion). All of these processes must be present to yield an agreement between the simulated stratification and the observed one, but details of their parameterization might not be too critical. The ACC transport is shown to have a contribution forced by the local wind stress as well as another contribution relating to the nonlocal forcing by wind stress and density flux over the entire Antarctic zone.

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Alex Hall and Martin Visbeck

Abstract

Zonally symmetric fluctuations of the midlatitude westerly winds characterize the primary mode of atmospheric variability in the Southern Hemisphere during all seasons. This is true not only in observations but also in an unforced 15 000-yr integration of a coarse-resolution (R15) coupled ocean–atmosphere model. Here it is documented how this mode of atmospheric variability, known as the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), generates ocean circulation and sea ice variations in the model integration on interannual to centennial timescales that are tightly in phase with the SAM. The positive phase of the SAM is associated with an intensification of the surface westerlies over the circumpolar ocean (around 60°S), and a weakening of the surface westerlies farther north. This induces Ekman drift to the north at all longitudes of the circumpolar ocean, and Ekman drift to the south at around 30°S. Through mass continuity, the Ekman drift generates anomalous upwelling along the margins of the Antarctic continent, and downwelling around 45°S. The anomalous flow diverging from the Antarctic continent also increases the vertical tilt of the isopycnals in the Southern Ocean, so that a more intense circumpolar current is also closely associated with positive SAM. In addition, the anomalous divergent flow advects sea ice farther north, resulting in an increase in sea ice coverage. Finally, positive SAM drives increases in poleward heat transport at about 30°S, while decreases occur in the circumpolar region. Ocean and sea ice anomalies of the opposite sign occur when the SAM is negative. The ocean and sea ice fluctuations associated with the SAM constitute a significant fraction of simulated ocean variability poleward of 30°S year-round. The robustness of the mechanisms relating the SAM to oceanic variability suggests that the SAM is likely an important source of large-scale variability in the real Southern Hemisphere ocean.

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Martin Visbeck and Jorgen Fischer

Abstract

Surface data obtained from 153-kHz acoustic Doppler current profilers deployed in the Greenland Sea at about 350-m depth during the winter of 1988/89 were investigated under several aspects. First a method is described to improve the instrument depth measurements using the binned backscattered energy profile near the surface. The accuracy of the depth estimates is found to be significantly better than 0.5 m.

Further, improvements of wind speed estimates were found by using the ambient noise in the 150-kHz band in favor of the surface backscattered energy as suggested by Schott. Limitations of the ambient sound method at low wind speeds are presented when thermal noise overwhelms the wind-induced noise.

Finally, a method to detect the presence of sea ice above the ADCP is presented by cross correlating the surface backscatter strength and the magnitudes of all Doppler velocity components. The resulting time series of ice concentration are in overall good agreement with Special Sensor Microwave/Imager estimates but allow for higher temporal resolution. Further, in the vicinity of the ice edge, enhanced high-frequency ambient noise in the 150-kHz band was observed.

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Ralph F. Keeling and Martin Visbeck

Abstract

The suggestion is advanced that the remarkably low static stability of Antarctic surface waters may arise from a feedback loop involving global deep-water temperatures. If deep-water temperatures are too warm, this promotes Antarctic convection, thereby strengthening the inflow of Antarctic Bottom Water into the ocean interior and cooling the deep ocean. If deep waters are too cold, this promotes Antarctic stratification allowing the deep ocean to warm because of the input of North Atlantic Deep Water. A steady-state deep-water temperature is achieved such that the Antarctic surface can barely undergo convection. A two-box model is used to illustrate this feedback loop in its simplest expression and to develop basic concepts, such as the bounds on the operation of this loop. The model illustrates the possible dominating influence of Antarctic upwelling rate and Antarctic freshwater balance on global deep-water temperatures.

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Gerd Krahmann, Martin Visbeck, and Gilles Reverdin

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A general circulation ocean model has been used to study the formation and propagation mechanisms of North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)-generated temperature anomalies along the pathway of the North Atlantic Current (NAC). The NAO-like wind forcing generates temperature anomalies in the upper 440 m that propagate along the pathway of the NAC in general agreement with the observations. The analysis of individual components of the ocean heat budget reveals that the anomalies are primarily generated by the wind stress anomaly-induced oceanic heat transport divergence. After their generation they are advected with the mean current. Surface heat flux anomalies account for only one-third of the total temperature changes. Along the pathway of the NAC temperature anomalies of opposite signs are formed in the first and second halves of the pathway, a pattern called here the North Atlantic dipole (NAD). The response of the ocean depends fundamentally on R t = (L/υ)/τ, the ratio between the time it takes for anomalies to propagate along the NAC [(L/υ) ∼ 10 years] compared to the forcing period τ. The authors find that for NAO periods shorter than 4 years (R t > 1) the response in the subpolar region is mainly determined by the local forcing. For NAO periods longer than 32 years (R t < 1); however, the SST anomalies in the northeastern part of the NAD become controlled by ocean advection. In the subpolar region maximal amplitudes of the temperature response are found for intermediate (decadal) periods (R t ∼ 1) where the propagation of temperature anomalies constructively interferes with the local forcing. A comparison of the NAO-generated propagating temperature anomalies with those found in observations will be discussed.

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