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Tal Ezer

Abstract

In the course of numerical simulations with a primitive equation regional model of the Gulf Stream, bottom topography and the New England Seamount Chain (NESC) in particular show significant influence on the variability and the energetics of the Gulf Stream system. The model is an eddy-resolving, coastal ocean model that includes thermohaline dynamics and a second-order turbulence closure scheme to provide vertical mixing coefficients; it is driven at the surface by observed monthly wind stress and heat fluxes. The surface and the deep variabilities obtained from the numerical simulations are in fair agreement with the observed variabilities inferred, for example, from the Geosat altimetry data and from measurements of eddy kinetic energy (EKE).

To study how the NESC affects the Gulf Stream dynamics, a control run without the NESC (however, leaving the other topographic features such as the continental shelf and slope intact) is compared to simulation with full bottom topography. According to the model results, the effects of the NESC on the Gulf Stream include southward deflection of the stream as it passes across the NESC and the development of several quasi-stationary, nearly barotropic recirculation cells on both sides of the Gulf Stream. Another result is an increase in the mean kinetic energy (MKE) and a decrease in the EKE in most of the water column as a result of the inclusion of the NESC. The inclusion of the NESC causes an upstream shift in the area of maximum variability compared with the case without the NESC; the maximum deep EKE is thus obtained upstream of the NESC. This study suggests that the stabilizing effects of the bottom topography dominate over possible destabilizing effects due to increase in meander amplitudes near the NESC. This study also suggests that the NESC causes a downstream decrease in the propagation speed of meanders upstream of the NESC and the development of an almost steady, large meander downstream of the NESC.

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Tal Ezer

Abstract

Numerical simulations of the Atlantic Ocean during the period 1950 to 1989, using a sigma coordinate, free surface numerical model, show long-term variabilities in the upper ocean subtropical gyre similar to those obtained from observations. The simulations show how westward propagating planetary waves, originated in the eastern North Atlantic, affect interdecadal variabilities of ocean properties such as the Bermuda sea level, the Gulf Stream position and strength, and subsurface temperature anomalies in the western North Atlantic. Special attention is given to the dramatic sea level drop at Bermuda in the early 1970s, which is accompanied by cooling of subsurface layers in the western North Atlantic and a northward shift and weakening of the Gulf Stream. Following these events, between 1970 and 1980, the cold temperature anomalies in the upper layers of the western North Atlantic slowly propagated eastward and downward; the strongest propagating signal in the model is found at 200-m depth, suggesting that advection of anomalies downstream by the Gulf Stream current and changes in winter mixing are involved. Significant correlations were found between the sea level anomalies at Bermuda and sea level anomalies in the eastern North Atlantic up to eight years earlier. Sensitivity experiments with different atmospheric forcing fields are used to study the ocean response to observed sea surface temperature and wind stress anomalies. It is shown that on decadal timescales, the ocean model responds in a linear fashion to the combined effect of SST and wind stress anomalies, a fact that might be exploited in future climate prediction studies.

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Tal Ezer and George L. Mellor

Abstract

A three-dimensional data assimilation scheme is described and tested, using the Geosat altimeter data and a high-resolution, primitive equation, numerical ocean model of the Gulf Stream region. The assimilation scheme is based on an optimal interpolation approach in which data along satellite tracks are continuously interpolated horizontally and vertically into the model grid and assimilated with the model prognostic fields. Preprocessed correlations between surface elevation anomalies and subsurface temperature and salinity anomalies are used to project surface information into the deep ocean; model and data error estimates are used to optimize the assimilation. Analysis fields derived from the Navy's Optimum Thermal Interpolation System are used to initialize the model and to provide some estimate of errors.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the assimilation scheme, the errors of model oceanic fields (surface elevation, Gulf Stream axis, temperature) with data assimilation are compared with errors without data assimilation (i.e., a pure forecast). Although some mesoscale meanders and rings are not well produced by the assimilation model, consistent reduction of errors by the assimilation is demonstrated. The vertical distribution of errors reveals that the scheme is most effective in nowcasting temperatures at middepth (around 500 m) and less effective near the surface and in the deep ocean. The scheme is also more effective in nowcasting the Gulf Stream axis location than in nowcasting temperature variations. A comparison of the assimilation scheme during two periods shows that the nowcast skill of the assimilated model is reduced in May–September 1988, compared to May–July 1987, due to poor coverage of the altimeter data during 1988.

This paper is one step toward a dynamic model and data assimilation system, which when fully developed, should provide useful nowcast and forecast information.

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Tal Ezer and George L. Mellor

Abstract

Satellite-derived surface data have become an important source of information for studies of the Gulf Stream system. The question of just how useful these datasets are for nowcasting the subsurface thermal fields, however, remains to be fully explored. Three types of surface data—sea surface temperature (SST), sea surface height (SSH), and Gulf Stream position (GSP)—are used here in a series of data assimilation experiments to test their usefulness when assimilated into a realistic primitive equation model. The U.S. Navy’s analysis fields from the Optimal Thermal Interpolation System are used to simulate the surface data and to evaluate nowcast errors. Correlation factors between variations of the surface data and variations of the subsurface temperature are used to project the surface information into the deep ocean, using data and model error estimates and an optimal interpolation approach to blend model and observed fields.

While assimilation of each surface data source shows some skill in nowcasting the subsurface fields (i.e., reducing errors compared to a control case without assimilation), SSH data reduce errors more effectively in middepths (around 500 m), and SST data reduce errors more effectively in the upper layers (above 100 m). Assimilation of GSP is effective in nowcasting the deep Gulf Stream, while the model dynamics produce eddies that are not included in the GSP analysis. An attempt to optimally combine SST and SSH data in the assimilation shows an improved skill at all depths compared to assimilation of each set of data separately.

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Tal Ezer and Georges L. Weatherly

Abstract

A two-dimensional (x-z) primitive equation model is used to study the interaction between a deep cold jet on a sloping bottom and the bottom boundary layer (BBL) of the deep ocean. Two closure schemes are used: a standard second order turbulence closure (SOTC) scheme (the level 2 1/2 model of Mellor and Yamada), and a new eddy viscosity closure scheme (K-model). The latter is a computationally simple model that produces very similar eddy viscosity and velocity fields as the more complicated SOTC-model while saving about 20% of the computational time.

The results of the numerical simulations compare favorably to observations from the base of the North Atlantic continental rise where the cold jet known as the Cold Filament (CF) is found. The interaction between the CF and the BBL is found to be dominated by cross-isotherm Ekman flow, resulting in an asymmetry effect with different dynamics at each one of the fronts associated with the CF. Some of the unusual characteristics of this region are explained with the aid of the numerical experiments. These are: velocity profiles significantly different from those obtained by classical Ekman dynamics, unstable BBLs and detachment of bottom layers. Spatial variations in the characteristics of the BBL which are often neglected in deep-ocean studies are found to be significant in this region.

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Tal Ezer and George L. Mellor

Abstract

A primitive equation regional model is used to study the effects of surface and lateral forcing on the variability and the climatology of the Gulf Stream system. The model is an eddy-resolving, coastal ocean model that includes thermohaline dynamics and a second-order turbulence closure scheme to provide vertical mixing. The surface forcing consists of wind stroll and beat fluxes obtained from the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS). Sensitivity studies am performed by driving the model with different forcing (e.g., annual versus zero surface forcing or monthly versus annual forcing). The model climatology, obtained from a five-year simulation of each case, is then compared to observed climatologies obtained from satellite-derived SST and hydrocast data.

The experiments in which surface best flux and wind stress were neglected show less realistic Gulf Stream separation and variability, compared with experiments in which annual or seasonal forcing are used. A similar unrealistic Gulf Stream separation is also obtained when the slope-water inflow at the northeast boundary is neglected. The experiments suggest that maintaining the density structure and the concomitant geostrophic flow in the northern recirculation gyre plays an important role in the separation of the Gulf Stream. The maintenance of the recirculation gyre is affected by beat transfer, wind stress and slope-water inflow. The beat transfer involves several processes: lateral eddy monster, surface heat gm and vertical mixing. Further improvement of the Gulf Stream separation and climatology are obtained when seasonal changes in the lateral temperature and salinity boundary conditions are included.

The seasonal climatology of the model calculations compare reasonably well with the observed climatology. Although total transports on open boundaries are maintained at climatological values, there are, nevertheless, large seasonal and spatial variations of Gulf Stream transport between Cape Hatteras and 62°W. These changes are accompanied by transport changes in the northern recirculation gyre.

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Dong-Ping Wang, Lie-Yauw Oey, Tal Ezer, and Peter Hamilton

Abstract

This study evaluates a data-assimilated model simulation of near-surface circulation in DeSoto Canyon (DSC), Gulf of Mexico, with emphasis on analyzing moored current-meter observations and comparing them with satellite data and model results. The study period is for two years from April 1997 to April 1999. The model results are from a high-resolution Gulf of Mexico model forced by analyzed wind and surface heat flux. Two types of data are used to deduce near-surface circulation: moored current meters at 13 locations in the DSC, and satellite sea level anomaly. The moored currents are mapped through multivariate objective analysis to produce surface currents and surface geopotentials, against which satellite- and model-derived sea surface heights and geostrophic currents are compared. Coupled patterns between the observations, model results, and satellite data are obtained using the singular value decomposition (SVD) analysis. There are two dominant modes: a “single-eddy” mode, in which currents are concentrated at the foot of the canyon, and an “eddy-pair” mode, in which one eddy is at the foot of the canyon and the other, a counterrotating eddy, is over the head of canyon. Mode 1 appears to be associated with the mesoscale eddy traveling around the Loop Current crest and trough, and mode 2 is associated with the intrusion of Loop Current crest and trough over the west Florida shelf. The observed and model currents are in good agreement about the means and variances. The model currents also appear to be well constrained by the steep topography. However, the model velocity field contains only the first mode. The satellite-derived velocity field, on the other hand, contains both the first and second modes; though, the satellite field does not adequately resolve the velocity structures over the slope.

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Tal Ezer, George L. Mellor, Dong-Shan Ko, and Ziv Sirkes

Abstract

Two types of satellite data, Geosat altimeter data and sea surface temperature data (SST), are compared and evaluated for their usefulness in assimilation into a numerical model of the Gulf Stream region. Synoptic sea surface height (SSH) fields are derived from the SST data in the following way: first three-dimensional temperature and salinity analysis fields are obtained through the Optimum Thermal Interpolation System (OTIS), and then SSH fields are calculated using a primitive equation, free-surface, numerical model running in a diagnostic mode. The aforementioned SSH fields are compared with SSH fields obtained from the Geosat altimeter data. Use of Geosat data requires an estimate of the cream SSH field relative to the earth geoid. Three different methods to obtain the mean SSH field are demonstrated. The first method uses altimetry and SST data, the second uses a diagnostic calculation with climatological data; and the third uses prognostic numerical calculations. The three estimates compared favorably with each other and with estimates obtained elsewhere.

The comparison of the synoptic SSH fields derived from both data types reveals similarity in the Gulf Stream meanders and some mesoscale features, but shows differences in strength of eddies and in variability far from the Gulf Stream. Due to the smoothed nature of the OTIS analysis fields, the SSH derived from altimetry data has larger variability amplitudes compared to that derived from SST data.

The statistical interpolation method, which is used to interpolate altimetry data from satellite tracks onto the model grid, is also evaluated for its filtering effect and its sensitivity to different parameters. The SSH variability of the Gulf Stream was calculated from two years of the exact repeat mission of the Geosat satellite, where altimeter data were interpolated daily onto the model grid. It is suggested here that some of the underestimation of mesoscale variations by statistical interpolation methods, as indicated by previous studies, may be explained by the filtering effect of the scheme.

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Sonya Legg, Bruce Briegleb, Yeon Chang, Eric P. Chassignet, Gokhan Danabasoglu, Tal Ezer, Arnold L. Gordon, Stephen Griffies, Robert Hallberg, Laura Jackson, William Large, Tamay M. Özgökmen, Hartmut Peters, Jim Price, Ulrike Riemenschneider, Wanli Wu, Xiaobiao Xu, and Jiayan Yang

Oceanic overflows are bottom-trapped density currents originating in semienclosed basins, such as the Nordic seas, or on continental shelves, such as the Antarctic shelf. Overflows are the source of most of the abyssal waters, and therefore play an important role in the large-scale ocean circulation, forming a component of the sinking branch of the thermohaline circulation. As they descend the continental slope, overflows mix vigorously with the surrounding oceanic waters, changing their density and transport significantly. These mixing processes occur on spatial scales well below the resolution of ocean climate models, with the result that deep waters and deep western boundary currents are simulated poorly. The Gravity Current Entrainment Climate Process Team was established by the U.S. Climate Variability and Prediction (CLIVAR) Program to accelerate the development and implementation of improved representations of overflows within large-scale climate models, bringing together climate model developers with those conducting observational, numerical, and laboratory process studies of overflows. Here, the organization of the Climate Process Team is described, and a few of the successes and lessons learned during this collaboration are highlighted, with some emphasis on the well-observed Mediterranean overflow. The Climate Process Team has developed several different overflow parameterizations, which are examined in a hierarchy of ocean models, from comparatively well-resolved regional models to the largest-scale global climate models.

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