Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 10 items for

  • Author or Editor: Xiaobiao Xu x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All Modify Search
Eric P. Chassignet and Xiaobiao Xu

Abstract

The impact of horizontal resolution (1/12° to 1/50°; 6 to 1.5 km at midlatitudes) on Gulf Stream separation, penetration, and variability is quantified in a series of identical North Atlantic experiments. The questions the authors seek to address are twofold: 1) Is the realism of the modeled solution increased as resolution is increased? 2) How robust is the modeled mesoscale and submesoscale eddy activity as a function of grid spacing and how representative is it of interior quasigeostrophic (QG) or surface quasigeostrophic (SQG) turbulence? This study shows that (i) the representation of Gulf Stream penetration and associated recirculating gyres shifts from unrealistic to realistic when the resolution is increased to 1/50° and when the nonlinear effects of the submesoscale eddies intensifies the midlatitude jet and increases its penetration eastward, (ii) the penetration into the deep ocean drastically increases with resolution and closely resembles the observations, and (iii) surface power spectra in the 70–250-km mesoscale range are independent of the horizontal resolution and of the latitude and are representative of 2D QG and SQG turbulence.

Full access
Xiaobiao Xu, Peter B. Rhines, and Eric P. Chassignet

Abstract

This study investigates the circulation structure and relative contribution of circulation components to the time-mean meridional heat and freshwater transports in the North Atlantic, using numerical results of a high-resolution ocean model that are shown to be in excellent agreement with the observations. The North Atlantic circulation can be separated into the large-scale Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) that is diapycnal and the subtropical and subpolar gyres that largely flow along isopycnal surfaces but also include prominent gyre-scale diapycnal overturning in the Subtropical Mode Water and Labrador Sea Water. Integrals of the meridional volume transport as a function of potential temperature θ and salinity S yield streamfunctions with respect to θ and to S, and heat functions. These argue for a significant contribution to the heat transport by the southward circulation of North Atlantic Deep Water. At 26.5°N, the isopycnic component of the subtropical gyre is colder and fresher in the northward-flowing western boundary currents than the southward return flows, and it carries heat southward and freshwater northward, opposite of that of the diapycnal component. When combined, the subtropical gyre contributes virtually zero to the heat transport and the AMOC is responsible for all the heat transport across this latitude. The subtropical gyre however significantly contributes to the freshwater transport, reducing the 0.5-Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s–1) southward AMOC freshwater transport by 0.13 Sv. In the subpolar North Atlantic near 58°N, the diapycnal component of the circulation, or the transformation of warm saline upper Atlantic water into colder fresher deep waters, is responsible for essentially all of the heat and freshwater transports.

Full access
Xiaobiao Xu, Peter B. Rhines, and Eric P. Chassignet

Abstract

Diapycnal water mass transformation is the essence behind the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and the associated heat/freshwater transports. Existing studies have mostly focused on the transformation that is forced by surface buoyancy fluxes, and the role of interior mixing is much less known. This study maps the three-dimensional structure of the diapycnal transformation, both surface forced and mixing induced, using results of a high-resolution numerical model that have been shown to represent the large-scale structure of the AMOC and the North Atlantic subpolar/subtropical gyres well. The analyses show that 1) annual mean transformation takes place seamlessly from the subtropical to the subpolar North Atlantic following the surface buoyancy loss along the northward-flowing upper AMOC limb; 2) mixing, including wintertime convection and warm-season restratification by mesoscale eddies in the mixed layer and submixed layer diapycnal mixing, drives transformations of (i) Subtropical Mode Water in the southern part of the subtropical gyre and (ii) Labrador Sea Water in the Labrador Sea and on its southward path in the western Newfoundland Basin; and 3) patterns of diapycnal transformations toward lighter and denser water do not align zonally—the net three-dimensional transformation is significantly stronger than the zonally integrated, two-dimensional AMOC streamfunction (50% in the southern subtropical North Atlantic and 60% in the western subpolar North Atlantic).

Full access
Yeon S. Chang, Tamay M. Özgökmen, Hartmut Peters, and Xiaobiao Xu

Abstract

The outflow of warm, salty, and dense water from the Red Sea into the western Gulf of Aden is numerically simulated using the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM). The pathways of the modeled overflow, temperature, salinity, velocity profiles from stations and across sections, and transport estimates are compared to those observed during the 2001 Red Sea Outflow Experiment. As in nature, the simulated outflow is funneled into two narrow channels along the seafloor. The results from the three-dimensional simulations show a favorable agreement with the observed temperature and salinity profiles along the channels. The volume transport of the modeled overflow increases with the increasing distance from the southern exit of the Bab el Mandeb Strait due to entrainment of ambient fluid, such that the modeled transport shows a reasonable agreement with that estimated from the observations. The initial propagation speed of the outflow is found to be smaller than the estimated interfacial wave speed. The slow propagation is shown to result from the roughness of the bottom topography characterized by a number of depressions that take time to be filled with outflow water. Sensitivities of the results to the horizontal grid spacing, different entrainment parameterizations, and forcing at the source location are investigated. Because of the narrow widths of the approximately 5 km of the outflow channels, a horizontal grid spacing of 1 km or less is required for model simulations to achieve a reasonable agreement with the observations. Comparison of two entrainment parameterizations, namely, TPX and K-profile parameterization (KPP), show that similar results are obtained at 1-km resolution. Overall, the simulation of the Red Sea outflow appears to be more strongly affected by the details of bottom topography and grid spacing needed to adequately resolve them than by parameterizations of diapycnal mixing.

Full access
J. H. LaCasce, J. Escartin, Eric. P. Chassignet, and Xiaobiao Xu

Abstract

The stability of a horizontally and vertically sheared surface jet is examined, with a focus on the vertical structure of the resultant eddies. Over a flat bottom, the instability is mixed baroclinic/barotropic, producing strong eddies at depth that are characteristically shifted downstream relative to the surface eddies. Baroclinic instability is suppressed over a large slope for retrograde jets (with a flow antiparallel to topographic wave propagation) and to a lesser extent for prograde jets (with flow parallel to topographic wave propagation), as seen previously. In such cases, barotropic (lateral) instability dominates if the jet is sufficiently narrow. This yields surface eddies whose size is independent of the slope but proportional to the jet width. Deep eddies still form, forced by interfacial motion associated with the surface eddies, but they are weaker than under baroclinic instability and are vertically aligned with the surface eddies. A sinusoidal ridge acts similarly, suppressing baroclinic instability and favoring lateral instability in the upper layer. A ridge with a 1-km wavelength and an amplitude of roughly 10 m is sufficient to suppress baroclinic instability. Surveys of bottom roughness from bathymetry acquired with shipboard multibeam echo sounding reveal that such heights are common beneath the Kuroshio, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and, to a lesser extent, the Gulf Stream. Consistent with this, vorticity and velocity cross sections from a 1/50° HYCOM simulation suggest that Gulf Stream eddies are vertically aligned, as in the linear stability calculations with strong topography. Thus, lateral instability may be more common than previously thought, owing to topography hindering vertical energy transfer.

Full access
Sijia Zou, M. Susan Lozier, and Xiaobiao Xu

Abstract

The latitudinal structure of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) variability in the North Atlantic is investigated using numerical results from three ocean circulation simulations over the past four to five decades. We show that AMOC variability south of the Labrador Sea (53°N) to 25°N can be decomposed into a latitudinally coherent component and a gyre-opposing component. The latitudinally coherent component contains both decadal and interannual variabilities. The coherent decadal AMOC variability originates in the subpolar region and is reflected by the zonal density gradient in that basin. It is further shown to be linked to persistent North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) conditions in all three models. The interannual AMOC variability contained in the latitudinally coherent component is shown to be driven by westerlies in the transition region between the subpolar and the subtropical gyre (40°–50°N), through significant responses in Ekman transport. Finally, the gyre-opposing component principally varies on interannual time scales and responds to local wind variability related to the annual NAO. The contribution of these components to the total AMOC variability is latitude-dependent: 1) in the subpolar region, all models show that the latitudinally coherent component dominates AMOC variability on interannual to decadal time scales, with little contribution from the gyre-opposing component, and 2) in the subtropical region, the gyre-opposing component explains a majority of the interannual AMOC variability in two models, while in the other model, the contributions from the coherent and the gyre-opposing components are comparable. These results provide a quantitative decomposition of AMOC variability across latitudes and shed light on the linkage between different AMOC variability components and atmospheric forcing mechanisms.

Open access
Xiaobiao Xu, Peter B. Rhines, Eric P. Chassignet, and William J. Schmitz Jr.

Abstract

The oceanic deep circulation is shared between concentrated deep western boundary currents (DWBCs) and broader interior pathways, a process that is sensitive to seafloor topography. This study investigates the spreading and deepening of Denmark Strait overflow water (DSOW) in the western subpolar North Atlantic using two ° eddy-resolving Atlantic simulations, including a passive tracer injected into the DSOW. The deepest layers of DSOW transit from a narrow DWBC in the southern Irminger Sea into widespread westward flow across the central Labrador Sea, which remerges along the Labrador coast. This abyssal circulation, in contrast to the upper levels of overflow water that remain as a boundary current, blankets the deep Labrador Sea with DSOW. Farther downstream after being steered around the abrupt topography of Orphan Knoll, DSOW again leaves the boundary, forming cyclonic recirculation cells in the deep Newfoundland basin. The deep recirculation, mostly driven by the meandering pathway of the upper North Atlantic Current, leads to accumulation of tracer offshore of Orphan Knoll, precisely where a local maximum of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) inventory is observed. At Flemish Cap, eddy fluxes carry ~20% of the tracer transport from the boundary current into the interior. Potential vorticity is conserved as the flow of DSOW broadens at the transition from steep to less steep continental rise into the Labrador Sea, while around the abrupt topography of Orphan Knoll, potential vorticity is not conserved and the DSOW deepens significantly.

Full access
David S. Trossman, Brian K. Arbic, David N. Straub, James G. Richman, Eric P. Chassignet, Alan J. Wallcraft, and Xiaobiao Xu

Abstract

Motivated by the substantial sensitivity of eddies in two-layer quasigeostrophic (QG) turbulence models to the strength of bottom drag, this study explores the sensitivity of eddies in more realistic ocean general circulation model (OGCM) simulations to bottom drag strength. The OGCM results are interpreted using previous results from horizontally homogeneous, two-layer, flat-bottom, f-plane, doubly periodic QG turbulence simulations and new results from two-layer, β-plane QG turbulence simulations run in a basin geometry with both flat and rough bottoms. Baroclinicity in all of the simulations varies greatly with drag strength, with weak drag corresponding to more barotropic flow and strong drag corresponding to more baroclinic flow. The sensitivity of the baroclinicity in the QG basin simulations to bottom drag is considerably reduced, however, when rough topography is used in lieu of a flat bottom. Rough topography reduces the sensitivity of the eddy kinetic energy amplitude and horizontal length scales in the QG basin simulations to bottom drag to an even greater degree. The OGCM simulation behavior is qualitatively similar to that in the QG rough-bottom basin simulations, in that baroclinicity is more sensitive to bottom drag strength than are eddy amplitudes or horizontal length scales. Rough topography therefore appears to mediate the sensitivity of eddies in models to the strength of bottom drag. The sensitivity of eddies to parameterized topographic internal lee wave drag, which has recently been introduced into some OGCMs, is also briefly discussed. Wave drag acts like a strong bottom drag in that it increases the baroclinicity of the flow, without strongly affecting eddy horizontal length scales.

Full access
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.

Full access
Eric D. Maloney, Andrew Gettelman, Yi Ming, J. David Neelin, Daniel Barrie, Annarita Mariotti, C.-C. Chen, Danielle R. B. Coleman, Yi-Hung Kuo, Bohar Singh, H. Annamalai, Alexis Berg, James F. Booth, Suzana J. Camargo, Aiguo Dai, Alex Gonzalez, Jan Hafner, Xianan Jiang, Xianwen Jing, Daehyun Kim, Arun Kumar, Yumin Moon, Catherine M. Naud, Adam H. Sobel, Kentaroh Suzuki, Fuchang Wang, Junhong Wang, Allison A. Wing, Xiaobiao Xu, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

Realistic climate and weather prediction models are necessary to produce confidence in projections of future climate over many decades and predictions for days to seasons. These models must be physically justified and validated for multiple weather and climate processes. A key opportunity to accelerate model improvement is greater incorporation of process-oriented diagnostics (PODs) into standard packages that can be applied during the model development process, allowing the application of diagnostics to be repeatable across multiple model versions and used as a benchmark for model improvement. A POD characterizes a specific physical process or emergent behavior that is related to the ability to simulate an observed phenomenon. This paper describes the outcomes of activities by the Model Diagnostics Task Force (MDTF) under the NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO) Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections (MAPP) program to promote development of PODs and their application to climate and weather prediction models. MDTF and modeling center perspectives on the need for expanded process-oriented diagnosis of models are presented. Multiple PODs developed by the MDTF are summarized, and an open-source software framework developed by the MDTF to aid application of PODs to centers’ model development is presented in the context of other relevant community activities. The paper closes by discussing paths forward for the MDTF effort and for community process-oriented diagnosis.

Open access