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Ronald C. Pacanowski and Anand Gnanadesikan

Abstract

Ocean simulations are in part determined by topographic waves with speeds and spatial scales dependent on bottom slope. By their very nature, discrete z-level ocean models have problems accurately representing bottom topography when slopes are less than the grid cell aspect ratio Δzx. In such regions, the dispersion relation for topographic waves is inaccurate. However, bottom topography can be accurately represented in discrete z-level models by allowing bottom-most grid cells to be partially filled with land. Consequently, gently sloping bottom topography is resolved on the scale of horizontal grid resolution and the dispersion relation for topographic waves is accurately approximated. In contrast to the standard approach using full cells, partial cells imply that all grid points within a vertical level are not necessarily at the same depth and problems arise with pressure gradient errors and the spurious diapycnal diffusion. However, both problems have been effectively dealt with. Differences in flow fields between simulations with full cells and partial cells can be significant, and simulations with partial cells are more robust than with full cells. Partial cells provide a superior representation of topographic waves when compared to the standard method employing full cells.

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Kirk Bryan, Syukuro Manabe, and Ronald C. Pacanowski

Abstract

A numerical experiment has been carried out with a joint model of the ocean and atmosphere. The 12-level model of the world ocean predicts the fields of horizontal velocity, temperature and salinity. It includes the effects of bottom topography, and a simplified model of polar pack ice. The numerical experiment allows the joint ocean-atmosphere model to seek an equilibrium over the equivalent of 270 years in the ocean time scale. The initial state of the ocean is uniform stratification and complete rest. Although the final temperature distribution is more zonal than it should be, the major western boundary currents and the equatorial undercurrent are successfully predicted. The calculated salinity field has the correct observed range, and correctly indicates that the Atlantic is saltier than the Pacific. It also predicts that the surface waters of the North Pacific are less saline than the surface waters of the South Pacific in accordance with observations. The pack ice model predicts heavy ice in the Arctic Ocean, and only very light pack ice along the periphery of the Antarctic Continent.

The poleward heat transport of the model is very sensitive to the strength of the circulation in the vertical meridional plane. The heat transport is strongest in the trade wind belt where Ekman drift and thermohaline forces act together to cause a net flow of surface water toward the poles. At higher latitudes in the westerly belt the wind and thermohaline forces on the meridional circulation tend to oppose each other. As a result, the beat transport is weaker. Heat balance computations made from observed data consistently show that the maximum heat transport by ocean currents is shifted 10°-20° equatorward relative to the maximum poleward heat transport by the atmosphere in middle latitudes. The effect of the zonal wind in enhancing poleward heat transport at low latitudes and suppressing it in middle latitudes is offered as an explanation.

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Stephen M. Griffies, Ronald C. Pacanowski, Martin Schmidt, and V. Balaji

Abstract

This paper details a free surface method using an explicit time stepping scheme for use in z-coordinate ocean models. One key property that makes the method especially suitable for climate simulations is its very stable numerical time stepping scheme, which allows for the use of a long density time step, as commonly employed with coarse-resolution rigid-lid models. Additionally, the effects of the undulating free surface height are directly incorporated into the baroclinic momentum and tracer equations. The novel issues related to local and global tracer conservation when allowing for the top cell to undulate are the focus of this work. The method presented here is quasi-conservative locally and globally of tracer when the baroclinic and tracer time steps are equal. Important issues relevant for using this method in regional as well as large-scale climate models are discussed and illustrated, and examples of scaling achieved on parallel computers provided.

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Stephen M. Griffies, Ronald C. Pacanowski, and Robert W. Hallberg

Abstract

This paper discusses spurious diapycnal mixing associated with the transport of density in a z-coordinate ocean model. A general method, based on the work of Winters and collaborators, is employed for empirically diagnosing an effective diapycnal diffusivity corresponding to any numerical transport process. This method is then used to quantify the spurious mixing engendered by various numerical representations of advection. Both coarse and fine resolution examples are provided that illustrate the importance of adequately resolving the admitted scales of motion in order to maintain a small amount of mixing consistent with that measured within the ocean’s pycnocline. Such resolution depends on details of the advection scheme, momentum and tracer dissipation, and grid resolution. Vertical transport processes, such as convective adjustment, act as yet another means to increase the spurious mixing introduced by dispersive errors from numerical advective fluxes.

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Giulio Boccaletti, Ronald C. Pacanowski, S. George, H. Philander, and Alexey V. Fedorov

Abstract

The salient feature of the oceanic thermal structure is a remarkably shallow thermocline, especially in the Tropics and subtropics. What factors determine its depth? Theories for the deep thermohaline circulation provide an answer that depends on oceanic diffusivity, but they deny the surface winds an explicit role. Theories for the shallow ventilated thermocline take into account the influence of the wind explicitly, but only if the thermal structure in the absence of any winds, the thermal structure along the eastern boundary, is given. To complete and marry the existing theories for the oceanic thermal structure, this paper invokes the constraint of a balanced heat budget for the ocean. The oceanic heat gain occurs primarily in the upwelling zones of the Tropics and subtropics and depends strongly on oceanic conditions, specifically the depth of the thermocline. The heat gain is large when the thermocline is shallow but is small when the thermocline is deep. The constraint of a balanced heat budget therefore implies that an increase in heat loss in high latitudes can result in a shoaling of the tropical thermocline; a decrease in heat loss can cause a deepening of the thermocline. Calculations with an idealized general circulation model of the ocean confirm these inferences. Arguments based on a balanced heat budget yield an expression for the depth of the thermocline in terms of parameters such as the imposed surface winds, the surface temperature gradient, and the oceanic diffusivity. These arguments in effect bridge the theories for the ventilated thermocline and the thermohaline circulation so that previous scaling arguments are recovered as special cases of a general result.

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Alexey Fedorov, Marcelo Barreiro, Giulio Boccaletti, Ronald Pacanowski, and S. George Philander

Abstract

The impacts of a freshening of surface waters in high latitudes on the deep, slow, thermohaline circulation have received enormous attention, especially the possibility of a shutdown in the meridional overturning that involves sinking of surface waters in the northern Atlantic Ocean. A recent study by Fedorov et al. has drawn attention to the effects of a freshening on the other main component of the oceanic circulation—the swift, shallow, wind-driven circulation that varies on decadal time scales and is closely associated with the ventilated thermocline. That circulation too involves meridional overturning, but its variations and critical transitions affect mainly the Tropics. A surface freshening in mid- to high latitudes can deepen the equatorial thermocline to such a degree that temperatures along the equator become as warm in the eastern part of the basin as they are in the west, the tropical zonal sea surface temperature gradient virtually disappears, and permanently warm conditions prevail in the Tropics. In a model that has both the wind-driven and thermohaline components of the circulation, which factors determine the relative effects of a freshening on the two components and its impact on climate? Studies with an idealized ocean general circulation model find that vertical diffusivity is one of the critical parameters that affect the relative strength of the two circulation components and hence their response to a freshening. The spatial structure of the freshening and imposed meridional temperature gradients are other important factors.

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Stephen M. Griffies, Anand Gnanadesikan, Ronald C. Pacanowski, Vitaly D. Larichev, John K. Dukowicz, and Richard D. Smith

Abstract

This paper considers the requirements that must be satisfied in order to provide a stable and physically based isoneutral tracer diffusion scheme in a z-coordinate ocean model. Two properties are emphasized: 1) downgradient orientation of the diffusive fluxes along the neutral directions and 2) zero isoneutral diffusive flux of locally referenced potential density. It is shown that the Cox diffusion scheme does not respect either of these properties, which provides an explanation for the necessity to add a nontrivial background horizontal diffusion to that scheme. A new isoneutral diffusion scheme is proposed that aims to satisfy the stated properties and is found to require no horizontal background diffusion.

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Thomas L. Delworth, Anthony Rosati, Whit Anderson, Alistair J. Adcroft, V. Balaji, Rusty Benson, Keith Dixon, Stephen M. Griffies, Hyun-Chul Lee, Ronald C. Pacanowski, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Fanrong Zeng, and Rong Zhang

Abstract

The authors present results for simulated climate and climate change from a newly developed high-resolution global climate model [Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model version 2.5 (GFDL CM2.5)]. The GFDL CM2.5 has an atmospheric resolution of approximately 50 km in the horizontal, with 32 vertical levels. The horizontal resolution in the ocean ranges from 28 km in the tropics to 8 km at high latitudes, with 50 vertical levels. This resolution allows the explicit simulation of some mesoscale eddies in the ocean, particularly at lower latitudes.

Analyses are presented based on the output of a 280-yr control simulation; also presented are results based on a 140-yr simulation in which atmospheric CO2 increases at 1% yr−1 until doubling after 70 yr.

Results are compared to GFDL CM2.1, which has somewhat similar physics but a coarser resolution. The simulated climate in CM2.5 shows marked improvement over many regions, especially the tropics, including a reduction in the double ITCZ and an improved simulation of ENSO. Regional precipitation features are much improved. The Indian monsoon and Amazonian rainfall are also substantially more realistic in CM2.5.

The response of CM2.5 to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 has many features in common with CM2.1, with some notable differences. For example, rainfall changes over the Mediterranean appear to be tightly linked to topography in CM2.5, in contrast to CM2.1 where the response is more spatially homogeneous. In addition, in CM2.5 the near-surface ocean warms substantially in the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean, in contrast to simulations using CM2.1.

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Anand Gnanadesikan, Keith W. Dixon, Stephen M. Griffies, V. Balaji, Marcelo Barreiro, J. Anthony Beesley, William F. Cooke, Thomas L. Delworth, Rudiger Gerdes, Matthew J. Harrison, Isaac M. Held, William J. Hurlin, Hyun-Chul Lee, Zhi Liang, Giang Nong, Ronald C. Pacanowski, Anthony Rosati, Joellen Russell, Bonita L. Samuels, Qian Song, Michael J. Spelman, Ronald J. Stouffer, Colm O. Sweeney, Gabriel Vecchi, Michael Winton, Andrew T. Wittenberg, Fanrong Zeng, Rong Zhang, and John P. Dunne

Abstract

The current generation of coupled climate models run at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) as part of the Climate Change Science Program contains ocean components that differ in almost every respect from those contained in previous generations of GFDL climate models. This paper summarizes the new physical features of the models and examines the simulations that they produce. Of the two new coupled climate model versions 2.1 (CM2.1) and 2.0 (CM2.0), the CM2.1 model represents a major improvement over CM2.0 in most of the major oceanic features examined, with strikingly lower drifts in hydrographic fields such as temperature and salinity, more realistic ventilation of the deep ocean, and currents that are closer to their observed values. Regional analysis of the differences between the models highlights the importance of wind stress in determining the circulation, particularly in the Southern Ocean. At present, major errors in both models are associated with Northern Hemisphere Mode Waters and outflows from overflows, particularly the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.

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