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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-04-05
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 2
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    American Meteorological Society
    In:  Journal of Physical Oceanography, 22 . pp. 361-381.
    Publication Date: 2018-04-05
    Description: A primitive equation model of an idealized ocean basin, driven by simple, study wind and buoyancy forcing at the surface, is used to study the dynamics of mesoscale eddies. Model statistics of a six-year integration using a fine grid (1/6° × 0.2°), with reduced coefficients of horizontal friction, are compared to those using a coarser grid (1/3° × 0.4°), but otherwise identical configuration. Eddy generation in both model cases is primarily due to the release of mean potential energy by baroclinic instability. Horizontal Reynolds stresses become significant near the midlatitude jet of the fine-grid case, with a tendency for preferred energy transfers from the eddies to the mean flow. Using the finer resolution, eddy kinetic energy nearly doubles at the surface of the subtropical gyre, and increases by factors of 3–4 over the jet region and in higher latitudes. The spatial characteristics of the mesoscale fluctuations are examined by calculating zonal wavenumber spectra and velocity autocorrelation functions. With the higher resolution, the dominant eddy scale remains approximately the same in the subtropical gyre but decreases by a factor of 2 in the subpolar areas. The wavenumber spectra indicate a strong influence of the model friction in the coarse-grid case, especially in higher latitudes. Using the coarse grid, there is almost no separation between the energetic eddy scale and the scale where friction begins to dominate, leading to steep spectra beyond the cutoff wavenumber. Using the finer resolution an inertial subrange with a k−3 power law begins to emerge in all model regions outside the equatorial belt. Despite the large increase of eddy intensity in the fine-grid model, effects on the mean northward transport of heat are negligible. Strong eddy fluxes of heat across the midlatitude jet are almost exactly compensated by changes of the heat transport due to the mean flow.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 3
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    American Meteorological Society
    In:  Journal of Physical Oceanography, 37 (4). pp. 946-961.
    Publication Date: 2018-04-11
    Description: A model of the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean is used to study different aspects of ventilation and water mass transformation during a year with moderate convection intensity in the Labrador Sea. The model realistically describes the salient features of the observed hydrographic structure and current system, including boundary currents and recirculations. Ventilation and transformation rates are defined and compared. The transformation rate of Labrador Sea Water (LSW), defined in analogy to several observational studies, is 6.3 Sv (Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) in the model. Using an idealized ventilation tracer, mimicking analyses based on chlorofluorocarbon inventories, an LSW ventilation rate of 10 Sv is found. Differences between both rates are particularly significant for those water masses that are partially transformed into denser water masses during winter. The main export route of the ventilated LSW is the deep Labrador Current (LC). Backward calculation of particle trajectories demonstrates that about one-half of the LSW leaving the Labrador Sea within the deep LC originates in the mixed layer during that same year. Near the offshore flank of the deep LC at about 55°W, the transformation of LSW begins in January and is at a maximum in February/March. While the export of transformed LSW out of the central Labrador Sea continues for several months, LSW generated near the boundary current is exported more rapidly, with maximum transport rates during March/April within the deep LC.
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-04-05
    Description: The monthly mean wind stress climatology of Hellerman and Rosenstein (HR) is compared with the climatology of Isemer and Hasse (IH), which represents a version of the Bunker atlas (BU) for the North Atlantic based on revised parameterizations. The drag coefficients adopted by IH are 21% smaller than the values of BU and HR, and the calculation of wind speed from marine estimates of Beaufort force (Bft) is based on a revised Beaufort equivalent scale similar to the scientific scale recommended by WMO. The latter choice significantly increases wind speed below Bft 8, and effectively counteracts the reduction of the drag coefficients. Comparing the IH stresses with HR reveals substantially enhanced magnitudes in the trade wind region throughout the year. At 15°N the mean easterly stress increases from about 0.9 (HR) to about 1.2 dyn cm−1 (IH). Annual mean differences are smaller in the region of the westerlies. In winter, the effect due to the reduced drag coefficient dominates and leads to smaller stress values in IH; during summer season the revision of the Beaufort equivalents is more effective and leads to increased stresses. Implications of the different wind stress climatologies for forcing the large-scale ocean circulation are discussed by means of the Sverdrup transport streamfunction (ψs): Throughout the subtropical gyre a significant intensification of ψs takes place with IH. At 27°N, differences of more than 10 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) are found near the western boundary. Differences in the seasonality of ψs are more pronounced in near-equatorial regions where IH increase the amplitude of the annual cycle by about 50%. An eddy-resolving model of the North Atlantic circulation is used to examine the effect of the different wind stresses on the seasonal cycle of the Florida Current. The transport predicted by the numerical model is in much better agreement with observations when the circulation is forced by IH than by HR, regarding both the annual mean (29.1 Sv vs 23.2 Sv) and the seasonal range (6.3 Sv vs 3.4 Sv).
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  • 5
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    American Meteorological Society
    In:  Journal of Physical Oceanography, 24 . pp. 91-107.
    Publication Date: 2018-04-05
    Description: The annual cycle of meridional heat transport in the North and equatorial Atlantic Ocean is studied by means of the high-resolution numerical model that had been developed in recent years as a Community Modeling Effort for the World Ocean Circulation Experiment. Similar to previous model studies, there is a winter maximum in northward heat transport in the equatorial Atlantic and a summer maximum in midlatitudes. The seasonal variation in heat transport in the equatorial Atlantic, with a maximum near 8°N, is associated with the out-of-phase changes in heat content to the north and south of that latitude in connection with the seasonal reversal of the North Equatorial Countercurrent. The amplitude of the heat transport variation at 8°N depends on model resolution: forcing with the monthly mean wind stresses of Hellerman–Rosenstein (HR) gives an annual range of 2.1 PW in the case of a 1/3° meridional grid, and 1.7 PW in the case of a 1° grid, compared to 1.4 PW in a previous 2° model. Forcing with the wind stresses of Isemer–Hasse (IH) gives 2.5 PW in the 1/3° and 2.2 PW in the 1° model case. The annual range of heat transport in the subtropical North Atlantic is much less dependent on resolution but sensitive to the wind stress: it increases from 0.5 PW in the case of HR forcing to almost 0.8 PW with IH forcing. The annual cycle of heat transport can be understood in terms of wind-driven variations in the meridional overturning; variations in horizontal gyre transport have only little effect both in the equatorial and in the subtropical Atlantic. In all model solutions the seasonal variations in the near-surface meridional Ekman transport are associated with deep seasonal overturning cells. The weak shear of the deep response suggests that the large variations in heat transport on seasonal and shorter time scales should be of little consequence for observational estimates of mean oceanic heat transports relying on one-time hydrographic surveys.
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  • 6
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    American Meteorological Society
    In:  Journal of Physical Oceanography, 32 (12). pp. 3346-3363.
    Publication Date: 2018-04-06
    Description: Experiments with a suite of North Atlantic general circulation models are used to examine the sources of eddy kinetic energy (EKE) in the Labrador Sea. A high-resolution model version (112°) quantitatively reproduces the observed signature. A particular feature of the EKE in the Labrador Sea is its pronounced seasonal cycle, with a maximum intensity in early winter, as already found in earlier studies based on altimeter data. In contrast to a previously advanced hypothesis, the seasonally varying eddy field is not related to a forcing by high-frequency wind variations but can be explained by a seasonally modulated instability of the West Greenland Current (WGC). The main source of EKE in the Labrador Sea is an energy transfer due to Reynolds interaction work (barotropic instability) in a confined region near Cape Desolation where the WGC adjusts to a change in the topographic slope: Geostrophic contours tend to converge upstream of Cape Desolation, such that the topographically guided WGC narrows as well and becomes barotropically unstable. The eddies spawned from the WGC instability area, dominating the EKE in the interior Labrador Sea, are predominantly anticyclonic with warm and saline cores in the upper kilometer of the water column, while the few cyclones originating as well from the instability area show a more depth-independent structure. Companion experiments with a ⅓° model exhibit the strength of the WGC, influenced by either changes in the wind stress or heat flux forcing, as a leading factor determining seasonal to interannual changes of EKE in the Labrador Sea
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  • 7
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    American Meteorological Society
    In:  Journal of Physical Oceanography, 18 . pp. 320-338.
    Publication Date: 2018-04-05
    Description: We examine the diffusive behavior of the flow field in an eddy-resolving, primitive equation circulation model. Analysis of fluid particle trajectories illustrates the transport mechanisms, which are leading to uniform tracer and potential vorticity distributions in the interior of the subtropical thermocline. In contrast to the assumption of weak mixing in recent analytical theories, the numerical model indicates the alternative of tracer and potential vorticity homogenization on isopycnal surfaces taking place in a nonideal fluid with strong, along-isopycnal eddy mixing. The eastern, ventilated portion of the gyre appears to be sufficiently homogeneous to allow the concept of an eddy diffusivity to apply. A break in a random walk behavior of particle statistics occurs after about 100 days when along-flow dispersion sharply increases, indicative of mean shear effects. During the first months of particle spreading, eddy dispersal and mean advection are of similar magnitude. Eddy kinetic energy is of O(60–80 cm2 s−2) in the model thermocline, comparable to the pool of weak eddy intensity found in the eastern parts of the subtropical oceans. Eddy diffusivity in the model thermocline (Kxx = 8 × 107, Kyy = 3 × 107 cm2 s−1) seems to be higher by a factor of about 3 than oceanic values estimated for these area. Below the thermocline, model diffusivity decreases substantially and becomes much more anisotropic, with particle dispersal preferentially in the zonal direction. The strong nonisotropic behavior, prominent also in all other areas of water eddy intensity, appears as the major discrepancy when compared with the observed behavior of SOFAR floats and surface drifters in the ocean.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 8
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    American Meteorological Society
    In:  Journal of Physical Oceanography, 22 . pp. 732-752.
    Publication Date: 2018-04-05
    Description: Characteristic of the mesoscale variability in the Atlantic Ocean are investigated by analyzing the Geosat altimeter signal between 60°S and 60°N. The rms sea-surface variability for various frequency bands is studied, including the high-frequency eddy-containing band with periods 〈150 days. Wavenumber spectra and spatial eddy characteristics are analyzed over 10° by 10° boxes covering both hemispheres of the Atlantic Ocean. A comparison, with solutions of a high-resolution numerical experiment, developed as the Community Modeling Effort of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment, aids interpretation of the Geosat results in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic and provides a test of the model fluctuating eddy field. Results from Geosat altimetry show a wavenumber dependence close to k1−5 (k1 being the alongtrack wave-number) over almost the entire Atlantic Ocean except for areas in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic where the rms variability in the eddy-containing band is less than 5 cm, that is, not significantly different from the altimeter noise level. Characteristic eddy length scales inferred from Geosat data are linearly related with the deformation radius of the first baroclinic mode over the whole Atlantic Ocean, except for the equatorial regime (10°S to 10°N). The data-model comparison indicates that the high-resolution model with horizontal grid size of ⅓° and ° in latitude and longitude is quite capable of simulating observed eddy characteristics in the tropics and subtropics. In mid- and high latitudes, however, the model fails to simulate the pronounced poleward decrease in eddy scales. This leads to systematic discrepancies between the model and Geosat observation, with model scales being up to 50% larger than deduced from altimetry.
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2017-08-24
    Description: Some studies of ocean climate model experiments suggest that regional changes in dynamic sea level could provide a valuable indicator of trends in the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC). This paper describes the use of a sequence of global ocean–ice model experiments to show that the diagnosed patterns of sea surface height (SSH) anomalies associated with changes in the MOC in the North Atlantic (NA) depend critically on the time scales of interest. Model hindcast simulations for 1958–2004 reproduce the observed pattern of SSH variability with extrema occurring along the Gulf Stream (GS) and in the subpolar gyre (SPG), but they also show that the pattern is primarily related to the wind-driven variability of MOC and gyre circulation on interannual time scales; it is reflected also in the leading EOF of SSH variability over the NA Ocean, as described in previous studies. The pattern, however, is not useful as a “fingerprint” of longer-term changes in the MOC: as shown with a companion experiment, a multidecadal, gradual decline in the MOC [of 5 Sv (1 Sv ≡ 106 m3 s−1) over 5 decades] induces a much broader, basin-scale SSH rise over the mid-to-high-latitude NA, with amplitudes of 20 cm. The detectability of such a trend is low along the GS since low-frequency SSH changes are effectively masked here by strong variability on shorter time scales. More favorable signal-to-noise ratios are found in the SPG and the eastern NA, where a MOC trend of 0.1 Sv yr−1 would leave a significant imprint in SSH already after about 20 years.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-02-01
    Description: Seasonal variability of the tropical Atlantic circulation is dominated by the annual cycle, but semi-annual variability is also pronounced, despite weak forcing at that period. Here we use multi-year, full-depth velocity measurements from the central equatorial Atlantic to analyze the vertical structure of annual and semi-annual variations of zonal velocity. A baroclinic modal decomposition finds that the annual cycle is dominated by the 4th mode and the semi-annual cycle by the 2nd mode. Similar local behavior is found in a high-resolution general circulation model. This simulation reveals that the annual and semi-annual cycles of the respective dominant baroclinic modes are associated with characteristic basin-wide structures. Using an idealized linear reduced-gravity model to simulate the dynamics of individual baroclinic modes, it is shown that the observed circulation variability can be explained by resonant equatorial basin modes. Corollary simulations of the reduced-gravity model with varying basin geometry (i.e. square basin versus realistic coastlines) or forcing (i.e. spatially uniform versus spatially variable wind) show a structural robustness of the simulated basin modes. A main focus of this study is the seasonal variability of the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) as identified in recent observational studies. Main characteristics of the observed EUC including seasonal variability of transport, core depth, and maximum core velocity can be explained by the linear superposition of the dominant equatorial basin modes as obtained from the reduced-gravity model.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed , info:eu-repo/semantics/article
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