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S. G. Alderson and S. A. Cunningham

Abstract

Attitude (pitch, roll, and heading) variations of the platform on which acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) are mounted will affect the measurements of water velocity using ADCPs. The major correction required to the velocity vector is for heading. Here the authors concentrate on the magnitude of errors due to pitch and roll biases. Data used in this study were obtained using a 150-kHz RD Instruments ADCP fitted to the RRS James Clark Ross. In late November 1994 a hydrographic section was made across Drake Passage in the Southern Ocean along the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) Special Repeat 1 section. The annual occupation of this line is a major contribution by the United Kingdom to the WOCE. A key element of the program is to determine the volume flux of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current as it flows through Drake Passage. One method of obtaining the total volume flux is by referencing relative geostrophic velocity profiles to the absolute ADCP velocity profiles, thereby obtaining estimates of the geostrophic reference velocity and hence the total geostrophic flow field; this is a technique used in several previous circulation studies. The authors find (i) use of pitch and roll corrections has no significant effect on heading misalignment and velocity amplitude calibrations; (ii) underway typical pitch and roll corrections amount to 0.005 m s−1 in the athwart ship water velocity; (iii) for this dataset, differences in the mean pitch and roll under way and on station explain half the geostrophic volume transport discrepancy obtained using underway and on-station ADCP velocities as a geostrophic reference; (iv) a pitch and roll bias of only 1° under way leads, in this dataset, to 10% errors in the estimate of the volume transport comparable to heading misalignment;and (v) hypothetically, pitch and roll variations at the same frequency and in phase can lead to much larger errors in volume transport estimates.

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W. E. Johns, L. M. Beal, M. O. Baringer, J. R. Molina, S. A. Cunningham, T. Kanzow, and D. Rayner

Abstract

Data from an array of six moorings deployed east of Abaco, Bahamas, along 26.5°N during March 2004–May 2005 are analyzed. These moorings formed the western boundary array of a transbasin observing system designed to continuously monitor the meridional overturning circulation and meridional heat flux in the subtropical North Atlantic, under the framework of the joint U.K.–U.S. Rapid Climate Change (RAPID)–Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) Program. Important features of the western boundary circulation include the southward-flowing deep western boundary current (DWBC) below 1000 m and the northward-flowing “Antilles” Current in the upper 1000 m. Transports in the western boundary layer are estimated from direct current meter observations and from dynamic height moorings that measure the spatially integrated geostrophic flow between moorings. The results of these methods are combined to estimate the time-varying transports in the upper and deep ocean over the width of the western boundary layer to a distance of 500 km offshore of the Bahamas escarpment. The net southward transport of the DWBC across this region, inclusive of northward deep recirculation, is −26.5 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), which is divided nearly equally between upper (−13.9 Sv) and lower (−12.6 Sv) North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW). In the top 1000 m, 6.0 Sv flows northward in a thermocline-intensified jet near the western boundary. These transports are found to agree well with historical current meter data in the region collected between 1986 and 1997. Variability in both shallow and deep components of the circulation is large, with transports above 1000 m varying between −15 and +25 Sv and deep transports varying between −60 and +3 Sv. Much of this transport variability, associated with barotropic fluctuations, occurs on relatively short time scales of several days to a few weeks. Upon removal of the barotropic fluctuations, slower baroclinic transport variations are revealed, including a temporary stoppage of the lower NADW transport in the DWBC during November 2004.

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T. Kanzow, H. L. Johnson, D. P. Marshall, S. A. Cunningham, J. J.-M. Hirschi, A. Mujahid, H. L. Bryden, and W. E. Johns

Abstract

The temporal evolution of the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) in the subtropical North Atlantic is affected by both remotely forced, basin-scale meridionally coherent, climate-relevant transport anomalies, such as changes in high-latitude deep water formation rates, and locally forced transport anomalies, such as eddies or Rossby waves, possibly associated with small meridional coherence scales, which can be considered as noise. The focus of this paper is on the extent to which local eddies and Rossby waves when impinging on the western boundary of the Atlantic affect the temporal variability of the AMOC at 26.5°N. Continuous estimates of the AMOC at this latitude have been made since April 2004 by combining the Florida Current, Ekman, and midocean transports with the latter obtained from continuous density measurements between the coasts of the Bahamas and Morocco, representing, respectively, the western and eastern boundaries of the Atlantic at this latitude.

Within 100 km of the western boundary there is a threefold decrease in sea surface height variability toward the boundary, observed in both dynamic heights from in situ density measurements and altimetric heights. As a consequence, the basinwide zonally integrated upper midocean transport shallower than 1000 m—as observed continuously between April 2004 and October 2006—varies by only 3.0 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) RMS. Instead, upper midocean transports integrated from western boundary stations 16, 40, and 500 km offshore to the eastern boundary vary by 3.6, 6.0, and 10.7 Sv RMS, respectively.

The reduction in eddy energy toward the western boundary is reproduced in a nonlinear reduced-gravity model suggesting that boundary-trapped waves may account for the observed decline in variability in the coastal zone because they provide a mechanism for the fast equatorward export of transport anomalies associated with eddies impinging on the western boundary. An analytical model of linear Rossby waves suggests a simple scaling for the reduction in thermocline thickness variability toward the boundary. Physically, the reduction in amplitude is understood as along-boundary pressure gradients accelerating the fluid and rapidly propagating pressure anomalies along the boundary. The results suggest that the local eddy field does not dominate upper midocean transport or AMOC variability at 26.5°N on interannual to decadal time scales.

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A. Duchez, J. J.-M. Hirschi, S. A. Cunningham, A. T. Blaker, H. L. Bryden, B. de Cuevas, C. P. Atkinson, G. D. McCarthy, E. Frajka-Williams, D. Rayner, D. Smeed, and M. S. Mizielinski

Abstract

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) has received considerable attention, motivated by its major role in the global climate system. Observations of AMOC strength at 26°N made by the Rapid Climate Change (RAPID) array provide the best current estimate of the state of the AMOC. The period 2004–11 when RAPID AMOC is available is too short to assess decadal variability of the AMOC. This modeling study introduces a new AMOC index (called AMOCSV) at 26°N that combines the Florida Straits transport, the Ekman transport, and the southward geostrophic Sverdrup transport. The main hypothesis in this study is that the upper midocean geostrophic transport calculated using the RAPID array is also wind-driven and can be approximated by the geostrophic Sverdrup transport at interannual and longer time scales. This index is expected to reflect variations in the AMOC at interannual to decadal time scales. This estimate of the surface branch of the AMOC can be constructed as long as reliable measurements are available for the Gulf Stream and for wind stress. To test the reliability of the AMOCSV on interannual and longer time scales, two different numerical simulations are used: a forced and a coupled simulation. Using these simulations the AMOCSV captures a substantial fraction of the AMOC variability and is in good agreement with the AMOC transport at 26°N on both interannual and decadal time scales. These results indicate that it might be possible to extend the observation-based AMOC at 26°N back to the 1980s.

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R. Kwok, T. Markus, J. Morison, S. P. Palm, T. A. Neumann, K. M. Brunt, W. B. Cook, D. W. Hancock, and G. F. Cunningham

Abstract

The sole instrument on the upcoming Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat-2) altimetry mission is a micropulse lidar that measures the time of flight of individual photons from laser pulses transmitted at 532 nm. Prior to launch, the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL) serves as an airborne implementation for testing and development. This paper provides a first examination of MABEL data acquired on two flights over sea ice in April 2012: one north of the Arctic coast of Greenland and the other in the east Greenland Sea. The phenomenology of photon distributions in the sea ice returns is investigated. An approach to locate the surface and estimate its elevation in the distributions is described, and its achievable precision is assessed. Retrieved surface elevations over relatively flat leads in the ice cover suggest that precisions of several centimeters are attainable. Restricting the width of the elevation window used in the surface analysis can mitigate potential biases in the elevation estimates due to subsurface returns at 532 nm. Comparisons of nearly coincident elevation profiles from MABEL with those acquired by an analog lidar show good agreement. Discrimination of ice and open water, a crucial step in the determination of sea ice freeboard and the estimation of ice thickness, is facilitated by contrasts in the observed signal–background photon statistics. Future flight paths will sample a broader range of seasonal ice conditions for further evaluation of the year-round profiling capabilities and limitations of the MABEL instrument.

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W. E. Johns, M. O. Baringer, L. M. Beal, S. A. Cunningham, T. Kanzow, H. L. Bryden, J. J. M. Hirschi, J. Marotzke, C. S. Meinen, B. Shaw, and R. Curry

Abstract

Continuous estimates of the oceanic meridional heat transport in the Atlantic are derived from the Rapid Climate Change–Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) and Heatflux Array (RAPID–MOCHA) observing system deployed along 26.5°N, for the period from April 2004 to October 2007. The basinwide meridional heat transport (MHT) is derived by combining temperature transports (relative to a common reference) from 1) the Gulf Stream in the Straits of Florida; 2) the western boundary region offshore of Abaco, Bahamas; 3) the Ekman layer [derived from Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) wind stresses]; and 4) the interior ocean monitored by “endpoint” dynamic height moorings. The interior eddy heat transport arising from spatial covariance of the velocity and temperature fields is estimated independently from repeat hydrographic and expendable bathythermograph (XBT) sections and can also be approximated by the array.

The results for the 3.5 yr of data thus far available show a mean MHT of 1.33 ± 0.40 PW for 10-day-averaged estimates, on which time scale a basinwide mass balance can be reasonably assumed. The associated MOC strength and variability is 18.5 ± 4.9 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1). The continuous heat transport estimates range from a minimum of 0.2 to a maximum of 2.5 PW, with approximately half of the variance caused by Ekman transport changes and half caused by changes in the geostrophic circulation. The data suggest a seasonal cycle of the MHT with a maximum in summer (July–September) and minimum in late winter (March–April), with an annual range of 0.6 PW. A breakdown of the MHT into “overturning” and “gyre” components shows that the overturning component carries 88% of the total heat transport. The overall uncertainty of the annual mean MHT for the 3.5-yr record is 0.14 PW or about 10% of the mean value.

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T. Kanzow, S. A. Cunningham, W. E. Johns, J. J-M. Hirschi, J. Marotzke, M. O. Baringer, C. S. Meinen, M. P. Chidichimo, C. Atkinson, L. M. Beal, H. L. Bryden, and J. Collins

Abstract

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) makes the strongest oceanic contribution to the meridional redistribution of heat. Here, an observation-based, 48-month-long time series of the vertical structure and strength of the AMOC at 26.5°N is presented. From April 2004 to April 2008, the AMOC had a mean strength of 18.7 ± 2.1 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) with fluctuations of 4.8 Sv rms. The best guess of the peak-to-peak amplitude of the AMOC seasonal cycle is 6.7 Sv, with a maximum strength in autumn and a minimum in spring. While seasonality in the AMOC was commonly thought to be dominated by the northward Ekman transport, this study reveals that fluctuations of the geostrophic midocean and Gulf Stream transports of 2.2 and 1.7 Sv rms, respectively, are substantially larger than those of the Ekman component (1.2 Sv rms). A simple model based on linear dynamics suggests that the seasonal cycle is dominated by wind stress curl forcing at the eastern boundary of the Atlantic. Seasonal geostrophic AMOC anomalies might represent an important and previously underestimated component of meridional transport and storage of heat in the subtropical North Atlantic. There is evidence that the seasonal cycle observed here is representative of much longer intervals. Previously, hydrographic snapshot estimates between 1957 and 2004 had suggested a long-term decline of the AMOC by 8 Sv. This study suggests that aliasing of seasonal AMOC anomalies might have accounted for a large part of the inferred slowdown.

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Luiz A. T. Machado, Maria A. F. Silva Dias, Carlos Morales, Gilberto Fisch, Daniel Vila, Rachel Albrecht, Steven J. Goodman, Alan J. P. Calheiros, Thiago Biscaro, Christian Kummerow, Julia Cohen, David Fitzjarrald, Ernani L. Nascimento, Meiry S. Sakamoto, Christopher Cunningham, Jean-Pierre Chaboureau, Walter A. Petersen, David K. Adams, Luca Baldini, Carlos F. Angelis, Luiz F. Sapucci, Paola Salio, Henrique M. J. Barbosa, Eduardo Landulfo, Rodrigo A. F. Souza, Richard J. Blakeslee, Jeffrey Bailey, Saulo Freitas, Wagner F. A. Lima, and Ali Tokay

CHUVA, meaning “rain” in Portuguese, is the acronym for the Cloud Processes of the Main Precipitation Systems in Brazil: A Contribution to Cloud-Resolving Modeling and to the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM). The CHUVA project has conducted five field campaigns; the sixth and last campaign will be held in Manaus in 2014. The primary scientific objective of CHUVA is to contribute to the understanding of cloud processes, which represent one of the least understood components of the weather and climate system. The five CHUVA campaigns were designed to investigate specific tropical weather regimes. The first two experiments, in Alcantara and Fortaleza in northeastern Brazil, focused on warm clouds. The third campaign, which was conducted in Belém, was dedicated to tropical squall lines that often form along the sea-breeze front. The fourth campaign was in the Vale do Paraiba of southeastern Brazil, which is a region with intense lightning activity. In addition to contributing to the understanding of cloud process evolution from storms to thunderstorms, this fourth campaign also provided a high-fidelity total lightning proxy dataset for the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R program. The fifth campaign was carried out in Santa Maria, in southern Brazil, a region of intense hailstorms associated with frequent mesoscale convective complexes. This campaign employed a multimodel high-resolution ensemble experiment. The data collected from contrasting precipitation regimes in tropical continental regions allow the various cloud processes in diverse environments to be compared. Some examples of these previous experiments are presented to illustrate the variability of convection across the tropics.

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M. Susan Lozier, Sheldon Bacon, Amy S. Bower, Stuart A. Cunningham, M. Femke de Jong, Laura de Steur, Brad deYoung, Jürgen Fischer, Stefan F. Gary, Blair J. W. Greenan, Patrick Heimbach, Naomi P. Holliday, Loïc Houpert, Mark E. Inall, William E. Johns, Helen L. Johnson, Johannes Karstensen, Feili Li, Xiaopei Lin, Neill Mackay, David P. Marshall, Herlé Mercier, Paul G. Myers, Robert S. Pickart, Helen R. Pillar, Fiammetta Straneo, Virginie Thierry, Robert A. Weller, Richard G. Williams, Chris Wilson, Jiayan Yang, Jian Zhao, and Jan D. Zika

Abstract

For decades oceanographers have understood the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) to be primarily driven by changes in the production of deep-water formation in the subpolar and subarctic North Atlantic. Indeed, current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections of an AMOC slowdown in the twenty-first century based on climate models are attributed to the inhibition of deep convection in the North Atlantic. However, observational evidence for this linkage has been elusive: there has been no clear demonstration of AMOC variability in response to changes in deep-water formation. The motivation for understanding this linkage is compelling, since the overturning circulation has been shown to sequester heat and anthropogenic carbon in the deep ocean. Furthermore, AMOC variability is expected to impact this sequestration as well as have consequences for regional and global climates through its effect on the poleward transport of warm water. Motivated by the need for a mechanistic understanding of the AMOC, an international community has assembled an observing system, Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (OSNAP), to provide a continuous record of the transbasin fluxes of heat, mass, and freshwater, and to link that record to convective activity and water mass transformation at high latitudes. OSNAP, in conjunction with the Rapid Climate Change–Meridional Overturning Circulation and Heatflux Array (RAPID–MOCHA) at 26°N and other observational elements, will provide a comprehensive measure of the three-dimensional AMOC and an understanding of what drives its variability. The OSNAP observing system was fully deployed in the summer of 2014, and the first OSNAP data products are expected in the fall of 2017.

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