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A. Schiller, S. E. Wijffels, and G. A. Meyers

Abstract

Experiments using OGCM output have been performed to assess sampling strategies for the Argo array in the Indian Ocean. The results suggest that spatial sampling is critical for resolving intraseasonal oscillations in the upper ocean, that is, about 500 km in the zonal and about 100 km in the equatorial meridional direction. Frequent temporal sampling becomes particularly important in dynamically active areas such as the western boundary current regime and the equatorial waveguide. High-frequency sampling is required in these areas to maintain an acceptable signal-to-noise ratio, suggesting a minimum sampling interval of 5 days for capturing intraseasonal oscillations in the upper Indian Ocean. Sampling of seasonal and longer-term variability down to 2000-m depth is less critical within the range of sampling options of Argo floats, as signal-to-noise ratios for sampling intervals up to about 20 days are almost always larger than one. However, these results are based on a single OGCM and are subject to model characteristics and errors. Based on a coordinated effort, results from various models could provide more robust estimates by minimizing the impact of individual model errors on sampling strategies.

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Jean-Baptiste Sallée, Kevin Speer, Steve Rintoul, and S. Wijffels

Abstract

An approximate mass (volume) budget in the surface layer of the Southern Ocean is used to investigate the intensity and regional variability of the ventilation process, discussed here in terms of subduction and upwelling. Ventilation resulting from Ekman pumping is estimated from satellite winds, the geostrophic mean component is assessed from a climatology strengthened with Argo data, and the eddy-induced advection is included via the parameterization of Gent and McWilliams, together with eddy mixing estimates. All three components contribute significantly to ventilation. Finally, the seasonal cycle of the upper ocean is resolved using Argo data.

The circumpolar-averaged circulation shows an upwelling in the Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) density classes, which is carried north into a zone of dense Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW) subduction. Although no consistent net production is found in the light SAMW density classes, a large subduction of Subtropical Mode Water (STMW) is observed. The STMW area is fed by convergence of a southward and a northward residual meridional circulation. The eddy-induced contribution is important for the water mass transport in the vicinity of the Antartic Circumpolar Current. It balances the horizontal northward Ekman transport as well as the vertical Ekman pumping.

While the circumpolar-averaged upper cell structure is consistent with the average surface fluxes, it hides strong longitudinal regional variations and does not represent any local regime. Subduction shows strong regional variability with bathymetrically constrained hotspots of large subduction. These hotspots are consistent with the interior potential vorticity structure and circulation in the thermocline. Pools of SAMW and AAIW of different densities are found along the circumpolar belt in association with the regional pattern of subduction and interior circulation.

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D. Roemmich, J. Gilson, R. Davis, P. Sutton, S. Wijffels, and S. Riser

Abstract

An increase in the circulation of the South Pacific Ocean subtropical gyre, extending from the sea surface to middepth, is observed over 12 years. Datasets used to quantify the decadal gyre spinup include satellite altimetric height, the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) hydrographic and float survey of the South Pacific, a repeated hydrographic transect along 170°W, and profiling float data from the global Argo array. The signal in sea surface height is a 12-cm increase between 1993 and 2004, on large spatial scale centered at about 40°S, 170°W. The subsurface datasets show that this signal is predominantly due to density variations in the water column, that is, to deepening of isopycnal surfaces, extending to depths of at least 1800 m. The maximum increase in dynamic height is collocated with the deep center of the subtropical gyre, and the signal represents an increase in the total counterclockwise geostrophic circulation of the gyre, by at least 20% at 1000 m. A comparison of WOCE and Argo float trajectories at 1000 m confirms the gyre spinup during the 1990s. The signals in sea surface height, dynamic height, and velocity all peaked around 2003 and subsequently began to decline. The 1990s increase in wind-driven circulation resulted from decadal intensification of wind stress curl east of New Zealand—variability associated with an increase in the atmosphere’s Southern Hemisphere annular mode. It is suggested (based on altimetric height) that midlatitude gyres in all of the oceans have been affected by variability in the atmospheric annular modes on decadal time scales.

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A. Schiller, J. S. Godfrey, P. C. McIntosh, G. Meyers, and S. E. Wijffels

Abstract

The near-surface dynamics and thermodynamics of the Indian Ocean are examined in a global ocean general circulation model (OGCM) with enhanced tropical resolution. The model uses a Seager-type heat flux formulation (weak relaxation toward a fixed SST, flux-corrected toward seasonal observed values). Resulting seasonal patterns of surface heat flux, mixed layer depth, and surface steric height all compare quite well with observations in the Indian Ocean, away from western boundaries. Distribution of flow in the mean Indonesian Throughflow is quite well simulated in the top 700 m. The model Indonesian throughflow transports, on average, 16.3 × 106 m3 s−1 from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, and its magnitude is fairly well predicted seasonally by the instantaneous Sverdrup version of the “Island Rule.” Model geostrophic transports relative to 700 m are substantially smaller, with a different seasonal cycle. Observed geostrophic transports are smaller than those in the model, though the model reproduces the seasonal cycle well. The annual mean heat transport through the Indonesian Throughflow region (about 1.15 × 1015 W) represents a heat sink for the Pacific Ocean and is an important heat source for the Indian Ocean. The authors have introduced an empirically based representation of tidal mixing in the Indonesian region: it causes water mass transformation through the Indonesian seas qualitatively like that observed and improves the realism of the surface heat fluxes. It also affects both the Indian and Pacific Oceans and causes extensive subsurface temperature and salinity changes in the former (i.e., cooling of the mixed layer, warming of the upper thermocline).

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Gabriele C. Hegerl, Emily Black, Richard P. Allan, William J. Ingram, Debbie Polson, Kevin E. Trenberth, Robin S. Chadwick, Phillip A. Arkin, Beena Balan Sarojini, Andreas Becker, Aiguo Dai, Paul J. Durack, David Easterling, Hayley J. Fowler, Elizabeth J. Kendon, George J. Huffman, Chunlei Liu, Robert Marsh, Mark New, Timothy J. Osborn, Nikolaos Skliris, Peter A. Stott, Pier-Luigi Vidale, Susan E. Wijffels, Laura J. Wilcox, Kate M. Willett, and Xuebin Zhang

Abstract

Understanding observed changes to the global water cycle is key to predicting future climate changes and their impacts. While many datasets document crucial variables such as precipitation, ocean salinity, runoff, and humidity, most are uncertain for determining long-term changes. In situ networks provide long time series over land, but are sparse in many regions, particularly the tropics. Satellite and reanalysis datasets provide global coverage, but their long-term stability is lacking. However, comparisons of changes among related variables can give insights into the robustness of observed changes. For example, ocean salinity, interpreted with an understanding of ocean processes, can help cross-validate precipitation. Observational evidence for human influences on the water cycle is emerging, but uncertainties resulting from internal variability and observational errors are too large to determine whether the observed and simulated changes are consistent. Improvements to the in situ and satellite observing networks that monitor the changing water cycle are required, yet continued data coverage is threatened by funding reductions. Uncertainty both in the role of anthropogenic aerosols and because of the large climate variability presently limits confidence in attribution of observed changes.

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Molly Baringer, Mariana B. Bif, Tim Boyer, Seth M. Bushinsky, Brendan R. Carter, Ivona Cetinić, Don P. Chambers, Lijing Cheng, Sanai Chiba, Minhan Dai, Catia M. Domingues, Shenfu Dong, Andrea J. Fassbender, Richard A. Feely, Eleanor Frajka-Williams, Bryan A. Franz, John Gilson, Gustavo Goni, Benjamin D. Hamlington, Zeng-Zhen Hu, Boyin Huang, Masayoshi Ishii, Svetlana Jevrejeva, William E. Johns, Gregory C. Johnson, Kenneth S. Johnson, John Kennedy, Marion Kersalé, Rachel E. Killick, Peter Landschützer, Matthias Lankhorst, Tong Lee, Eric Leuliette, Feili Li, Eric Lindstrom, Ricardo Locarnini, Susan Lozier, John M. Lyman, John J. Marra, Christopher S. Meinen, Mark A. Merrifield, Gary T. Mitchum, Ben Moat, Didier Monselesan, R. Steven Nerem, Renellys C. Perez, Sarah G. Purkey, Darren Rayner, James Reagan, Nicholas Rome, Alejandra Sanchez-Franks, Claudia Schmid, Joel P. Scott, Uwe Send, David A. Siegel, David A. Smeed, Sabrina Speich, Paul W. Stackhouse Jr., William Sweet, Yuichiro Takeshita, Philip R. Thompson, Joaquin A. Triñanes, Martin Visbeck, Denis L. Volkov, Rik Wanninkhof, Robert A. Weller, Toby K. Westberry, Matthew J. Widlansky, Susan E. Wijffels, Anne C. Wilber, Lisan Yu, Weidong Yu, and Huai-Min Zhang
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