Some Effects of the Wind on Rings

William K. Dewar Department of Oceanography and the Supercomputer Computations Research Institute, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306

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Glenn R. Flierl Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139

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Abstract

Some simple air-sea momentum transfer models, which include sea surface velocity and temperature, are considered for their effects on Gulf Stream rings. Perturbing the stress calculation with sea surface velocity results in a “top drag”, which causes interior motions to decay. Numerical experiments with equivalent barotropic quasi-geostrophic dynamics and reasonable estimates for the top drag suggest that this mechanism can amount for a significant fraction of observed isotherm subsidence rates in rings. Perturbing the stress calculation with a temperature sensitive drag coefficient produces a dipolar Ekman pumping field over a ring. For an eastward directed wind, the result is a tendency for the ring to self-propagate to the south. Integral constraints can be used to estimate the meridional propagation rate precisely, and for reasonable stress and thermal anomaly values, the estimate compares well with observations.

Abstract

Some simple air-sea momentum transfer models, which include sea surface velocity and temperature, are considered for their effects on Gulf Stream rings. Perturbing the stress calculation with sea surface velocity results in a “top drag”, which causes interior motions to decay. Numerical experiments with equivalent barotropic quasi-geostrophic dynamics and reasonable estimates for the top drag suggest that this mechanism can amount for a significant fraction of observed isotherm subsidence rates in rings. Perturbing the stress calculation with a temperature sensitive drag coefficient produces a dipolar Ekman pumping field over a ring. For an eastward directed wind, the result is a tendency for the ring to self-propagate to the south. Integral constraints can be used to estimate the meridional propagation rate precisely, and for reasonable stress and thermal anomaly values, the estimate compares well with observations.

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