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An Efficient Convective Adjustment Scheme for Ocean General Circulation Models

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  • 1 The Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

The implicit vertical diffusion (IVD) convective adjustment scheme in common use in ocean general circulation models (OGCMs) could have large residual static gravitational instability at each time step. An iterative and explicit scheme is devised, based on similar physical considerations as the ones for the IVD scheme. It guarantees a complete removal of static instability in a vertical water column and is more efficient than the IVD scheme in overall spinup of the model.

The two convective schemes are compared in an ocean model that is in a state of interdecadal limit cycles. While the model solution with either of these two schemes is characterized by interdecadal oscillations, the variability is different in each scheme. The primary oscillation has a period of about 11 years, but the basin mean kinetic energy shows large differences. The 11-year cycle is modulated by a 33-year oscillation with the IVD scheme, while it is modulated by a 22-year cycle with the complete scheme. The amplitude of the variation of kinetic energy with the IVD scheme is also about twice as large as that with a complete adjustment scheme. It is therefore suggested that complete and incomplete convective schemes can lead to different model variability when convective changes in temperature and salinity have large variations over a short period of time.

Abstract

The implicit vertical diffusion (IVD) convective adjustment scheme in common use in ocean general circulation models (OGCMs) could have large residual static gravitational instability at each time step. An iterative and explicit scheme is devised, based on similar physical considerations as the ones for the IVD scheme. It guarantees a complete removal of static instability in a vertical water column and is more efficient than the IVD scheme in overall spinup of the model.

The two convective schemes are compared in an ocean model that is in a state of interdecadal limit cycles. While the model solution with either of these two schemes is characterized by interdecadal oscillations, the variability is different in each scheme. The primary oscillation has a period of about 11 years, but the basin mean kinetic energy shows large differences. The 11-year cycle is modulated by a 33-year oscillation with the IVD scheme, while it is modulated by a 22-year cycle with the complete scheme. The amplitude of the variation of kinetic energy with the IVD scheme is also about twice as large as that with a complete adjustment scheme. It is therefore suggested that complete and incomplete convective schemes can lead to different model variability when convective changes in temperature and salinity have large variations over a short period of time.

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