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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-05-02
    Description: To model tracer spreading in the ocean, Lagrangian simulations in an offline framework are a practical and efficient alternative to solving the advective–diffusive tracer equations online. Differences in both approaches raise the question of whether both methods are comparable. Lagrangian simulations usually use model output averaged in time, and trajectories are not subject to parameterized subgrid diffusion, which is included in the advection–diffusion equations of ocean models. Previous studies focused on diffusivity estimates in idealized models but could show that both methods yield similar results as long as the deformations-scale dynamics are resolved and a sufficient amount of Lagrangian particles is used. This study compares spreading of an Eulerian tracer simulated online and a cloud of Lagrangian particles simulated offline with velocities from the same ocean model. We use a global, eddy-resolving ocean model featuring 1/20° horizontal resolution in the Agulhas region around South Africa. Tracer and particles were released at one time step in the Cape Basin and below the mixed layer and integrated for 3 years. Large-scale diagnostics, like mean pathways of floats and tracer, are almost identical and 1D horizontal distributions show no significant differences. Differences in vertical distributions, seen in a reduced vertical spreading and downward displacement of particles, are due to the combined effect of unresolved subdaily variability of the vertical velocities and the spatial variation of vertical diffusivity. This, in turn, has a small impact on the horizontal spreading behavior. The estimates of eddy diffusivity from particles and tracer yield comparable results of about 4000 m2 s−1 in the Cape Basin.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
    Format: text
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