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Zhixiang Zhang, Larry J. Pratt, Fan Wang, Jianing Wang, and Shuwen Tan

Abstract

Intermediate-depth intraseasonal variability (ISV) at a 20–90-day period, as detected in velocity measurements from seven subsurface moorings in the tropical western Pacific, is interpreted in terms of equatorial Rossby waves. The moorings were deployed between 0° and 7.5°N along 142°E from September 2014 to October 2015. The strongest ISV energy at 1200 m occurs at 4.5°N. Peak energy at 4.5°N is also seen in an eddy-resolving global circulation model. An analysis of the model output identifies the source of the ISV as short equatorial Rossby waves with westward phase speed but southeastward and downward group velocity. Additionally, it is shown that a superposition of first three baroclinic modes is required to represent the ISV energy propagation. Further analysis using a 1.5-layer shallow water model suggests that the first meridional mode Rossby wave accounts for the specific meridional distribution of ISV in the western Pacific. The same model suggests that the tilted coastlines of Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea, which lie to the south of the moorings, shift the location of the northern peak of meridional velocity oscillation from 3°N to near 4.5°N. The tilt of this boundary with respect to a purely zonal alignment therefore needs to be taken into account to explain this meridional shift of the peak. Calculation of the barotropic conversion rate indicates that the intraseasonal kinetic energy below 1000 m can be transferred into the mean flows, suggesting a possible forcing mechanism for intermediate-depth zonal jets.

Open access
Larry J. Pratt, Gunnar Voet, Astrid Pacini, Shuwen Tan, Matthew H. Alford, Glenn S. Carter, James B. Girton, and Dimitris Menemenlis

Abstract

The main source feeding the abyssal circulation of the North Pacific is the deep, northward flow of 5–6 Sverdrups (Sv; 1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) through the Samoan Passage. A recent field campaign has shown that this flow is hydraulically controlled and that it experiences hydraulic jumps accompanied by strong mixing and dissipation concentrated near several deep sills. By our estimates, the diapycnal density flux associated with this mixing is considerably larger than the diapycnal flux across a typical isopycnal surface extending over the abyssal North Pacific. According to historical hydrographic observations, a second source of abyssal water for the North Pacific is 2.3–2.8 Sv of the dense flow that is diverted around the Manihiki Plateau to the east, bypassing the Samoan Passage. This bypass flow is not confined to a channel and is therefore less likely to experience the strong mixing that is associated with hydraulic transitions. The partitioning of flux between the two branches of the deep flow could therefore be relevant to the distribution of Pacific abyssal mixing. To gain insight into the factors that control the partitioning between these two branches, we develop an abyssal and equator-proximal extension of the “island rule.” Novel features include provisions for the presence of hydraulic jumps as well as identification of an appropriate integration circuit for an abyssal layer to the east of the island. Evaluation of the corresponding circulation integral leads to a prediction of 0.4–2.4 Sv of bypass flow. The circulation integral clearly identifies dissipation and frictional drag effects within the Samoan Passage as crucial elements in partitioning the flow.

Full access
Hui Zhou, Hengchang Liu, Shuwen Tan, Wenlong Yang, Yao Li, Xueqi Liu, Qiang Ren, and William K. Dewar

Abstract

The structure and variations of the North Equatorial Countercurrent (NECC) in the far western Pacific Ocean during 2014–16 are investigated using repeated in situ hydrographic data, altimeter data, Argo data, and reanalysis data. The NECC shifted ~1° southward and intensified significantly with its transport exceeding 40 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1), nearly double its climatology value, during the developing phase of the 2015/16 El Niño event. Observations show that the 2015/16 El Niño exerted a comparable impact on the NECC with that of the extreme 1997/98 El Niño in the far western Pacific Ocean. Baroclinic instability provided the primary energy source for the eddy kinetic energy (EKE) in the 2015/16 El Niño, which differs from the traditional understanding of the energy source of EKE as barotropic instability in low-latitude ocean. The enhanced vertical shear and the reduced density jump between the NECC layer and the North Equatorial Subsurface Current (NESC) layer renders the NECC–NESC system baroclinically unstable in the western Pacific Ocean during El Niño developing phase. The eddy–mean flow interactions here are diverse associated with various states of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Open access
Jesse M. Cusack, Gunnar Voet, Matthew H. Alford, James B. Girton, Glenn S. Carter, Larry J. Pratt, Kelly A. Pearson-Potts, and Shuwen Tan

Abstract

Abyssal waters forming the lower limb of the global overturning circulation flow through the Samoan Passage and are modified by intense mixing. Thorpe-scale-based estimates of dissipation from moored profilers deployed on top of two sills for 17 months reveal that turbulence is continuously generated in the passage. Overturns were observed in a density band in which the Richardson number was often smaller than ¼, consistent with shear instability occurring at the upper interface of the fast-flowing bottom water layer. The magnitude of dissipation was found to be stable on long time scales from weeks to months. A second array of 12 moored profilers deployed for a shorter duration but profiling at higher frequency was able to resolve variability in dissipation on time scales from days to hours. At some mooring locations, near-inertial and tidal modulation of the dissipation rate was observed. However, the modulation was not spatially coherent across the passage. The magnitude and vertical structure of dissipation from observations at one of the major sills is compared with an idealized 2D numerical simulation that includes a barotropic tidal forcing. Depth-integrated dissipation rates agree between model and observations to within a factor of 3. The tide has a negligible effect on the mean dissipation. These observations reinforce the notion that the Samoan Passage is an important mixing hot spot in the global ocean where waters are being transformed continuously.

Open access
Shuwen Tan, Larry J. Pratt, Dongliang Yuan, Xiang Li, Zheng Wang, Yao Li, Corry Corvianawatie, Dewi Surinati, Asep S. Budiman, and Ahmad Bayhaqi

Abstract

Hydrographic measurements recently acquired along the thalweg of the Lifamatola Passage combined with historical moored velocity measurements immediately downstream of the sill are used to study the hydraulics, transport, mixing, and entrainment in the dense overflow. The observations suggest that the mean overflow is nearly critical at the mooring site, suggesting that a weir formula may be appropriate for estimating the overflow transport. Our assessment suggests that the weir formulas corresponding to a rectangular, triangular, or parabolic cross section all result in transports very close to the observation, suggesting their potential usage in long-term monitoring of the overflow transport or parameterizing the transport in numerical models. Analyses also suggest that deep signals within the overflow layer are blocked by the shear flow from propagating upstream, whereas the shallow wave modes of the full-depth continuously stratified flow are able to propagate upstream from the Banda Sea into the Maluku Sea. Strong mixing is found immediately downstream of the sill crest, with Thorpe-scale-based estimates of the mean dissipation rate within the overflow up to 1.1 × 10−7 W kg−1 and the region-averaged diapycnal diffusivity within the downstream overflow in the range of 2.3 × 10−3 to 10.1 × 10−3 m2 s−1. Mixing in the Lifamatola Passage results in 0.6–1.2-Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) entrainment transport added to the overflow, enhancing the deep-water renewal in the Banda Sea. A bulk diffusivity coefficient estimated in the deep Banda Sea yields 1.6 × 10−3 ± 5 × 10−4 m2 s−1, with an associated downward turbulent heat flux of 9 W m−2.

Free access
Dongliang Yuan, Xiang Li, Zheng Wang, Yao Li, Jing Wang, Ya Yang, Xiaoyue Hu, Shuwen Tan, Hui Zhou, Adhitya Kusuma Wardana, Dewi Surinati, Adi Purwandana, Mochamad Furqon Azis Ismail, Praditya Avianto, Dirham Dirhamsyah, Zainal Arifin, and Jin-Song von Storch

Abstract

The Maluku Channel is a major opening of the eastern Indonesian Seas to the western Pacific Ocean, the upper-ocean currents of which have rarely been observed historically. During December 2012–November 2016, long time series of the upper Maluku Channel transport are measured successfully for the first time using subsurface oceanic moorings. The measurements show significant intraseasonal-to-interannual variability of over 14 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in the upper 300 m or so, with a mean transport of 1.04–1.31 Sv northward and a significant southward interannual change of over 3.5 Sv in the spring of 2014. Coincident with the interannual transport change is the Mindanao Current, choked at the entrance of the Indonesian Seas, which is significantly different from its climatological retroflection in fall–winter. A high-resolution numerical simulation suggests that the variations of the Maluku Channel currents are associated with the shifting of the Mindanao Current retroflection. It is suggested that the shifting of the Mindanao Current outside the Sulawesi Sea in the spring of 2014 elevates the sea level at the entrance of the Indonesian Seas, which drives the anomalous transport through the Maluku Channel. The results suggest the importance of the western boundary current nonlinearity in driving the transport variability of the Indonesian Throughflow.

Full access