- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Physical Oceanography
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 537 to 555
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Abstract. Mixed-layer depth (MLD) exhibits significant variability, which is important for atmosphere–ocean exchanges of heat and atmospheric gases. The origins of the mesoscale MLD variability in the Southern Ocean are studied here in an idealised regional ocean–atmosphere model (ROAM). The main conclusion from the analysis of the upper-ocean buoyancy budget is that, while the atmospheric forcing and oceanic vertical mixing, on average, induce the mesoscale variability of MLD, the three-dimensional oceanic advection of buoyancy counteracts and partially balances these atmosphere-induced vertical processes. The relative importance of advection changes with both season and average MLD. From January to May, when the mixed layer is shallow, the atmospheric forcing and oceanic mixing are the most important processes, with the advection playing a secondary role. From June to December, when the mixed layer is deep, both atmospheric forcing and oceanic advection are equally important in driving the MLD variability. Importantly, buoyancy advection by mesoscale ocean current anomalies can lead to both local shoaling and deepening of the mixed layer. The role of the atmospheric forcing is then directly addressed by two sensitivity experiments in which the mesoscale variability is removed from the atmosphere–ocean heat and momentum fluxes. The findings confirm that mesoscale atmospheric forcing predominantly controls MLD variability in summer and that intrinsic oceanic variability and surface forcing are equally important in winter. As a result, MLD variance increases when mesoscale anomalies in atmospheric fluxes are removed in winter, and oceanic advection becomes a dominant player in the buoyancy budget. This study highlights the importance of oceanic advection and intrinsic ocean dynamics in driving mesoscale MLD variability and underscores the importance of MLD in modulating the effects of advection on upper-ocean dynamics.more » « less
Wintertime surface ocean heat loss is the key process driving the formation of Subantarctic Mode Water (SAMW), but there are few direct observations of heat fluxes, particularly during winter. The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Southern Ocean mooring in the southeast Pacific Ocean and the Southern Ocean Flux Station (SOFS) in the southeast Indian Ocean provide the first concurrent, multiyear time series of air–sea fluxes in the Southern Ocean from two key SAMW formation regions. In this work we compare drivers of wintertime heat loss and SAMW formation by comparing air–sea fluxes and mixed layers at these two mooring locations. A gridded Argo product and the ERA5 reanalysis product provide temporal and spatial context for the mooring observations. Turbulent ocean heat loss is on average 1.5 times larger in the southeast Indian (SOFS) than in the southeast Pacific (OOI), with stronger extreme heat flux events in the southeast Indian leading to larger cumulative winter ocean heat loss. Turbulent heat loss events in the southeast Indian (SOFS) occur in two atmospheric regimes (cold air from the south or dry air circulating via the north), while heat loss events in the southeast Pacific (OOI) occur in a single atmospheric regime (cold air from the south). On interannual time scales, wintertime anomalies in net heat flux and mixed layer depth (MLD) are often correlated at the two sites, particularly when wintertime MLDs are anomalously deep. This relationship is part of a larger basin-scale zonal dipole in heat flux and MLD anomalies present in both the Indian and Pacific basins, associated with anomalous meridional atmospheric circulation.
Abstract The South Atlantic Convergence Zone (SACZ) is an atmospheric system occurring in austral summer on the South America continent and sometimes extending over the adjacent South Atlantic. It is characterized by a persistent and very large, northwest-southeast-oriented, cloud band. Its presence over the ocean causes sea surface cooling that some past studies indicated as being produced by a decrease of incoming solar heat flux induced by the extensive cloud cover. Here we investigate ocean–atmosphere interaction processes in the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean (SWA) during SACZ oceanic episodes, as well as the resulting modulations occurring in the oceanic mixed layer and their possible feedbacks on the marine atmospheric boundary layer. Our main interests and novel results are on verifying how the oceanic SACZ acts on dynamic and thermodynamic mechanisms and contributes to the sea surface thermal balance in that region. In our oceanic SACZ episodes simulations we confirm an ocean surface cooling. Model results indicate that surface atmospheric circulation and the presence of an extensive cloud cover band over the SWA promote sea surface cooling via a combined effect of dynamic and thermodynamic mechanisms, which are of the same order of magnitude. The sea surface temperature (SST) decreases in regions underneath oceanic SACZ positions, near Southeast Brazilian coast, in the South Brazil Bight (SBB) and offshore. This cooling is the result of a complex combination of factors caused by the decrease of solar shortwave radiation reaching the sea surface and the reduction of horizontal heat advection in the Brazil Current (BC) region. The weakened southward BC and adjacent offshore region heat advection seems to be associated with the surface atmospheric circulation caused by oceanic SACZ episodes, which rotate the surface wind and strengthen cyclonic oceanic mesoscale eddy. Another singular feature found in this study is the presence of an atmospheric cyclonic vortex Southwest of the SACZ (CVSS), both at the surface and aloft at 850 hPa near 24°S and 45°W. The CVSS induces an SST decrease southwestward from the SACZ position by inducing divergent Ekman transport and consequent offshore upwelling. This shows that the dynamical effects of atmospheric surface circulation associated with the oceanic SACZ are not restricted only to the region underneath the cloud band, but that they extend southwestward where the CVSS presence supports the oceanic SACZ convective activity and concomitantly modifies the ocean dynamics. Therefore, the changes produced in the oceanic dynamics by these SACZ events may be important to many areas of scientific and applied climate research. For example, episodes of oceanic SACZ may influence the pathways of pollutants as well as fish larvae dispersion in the region.more » « less
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Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies caused by a warm core eddy (WCE) in the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean (SWA) rendered a crucial influence on modifying the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL). During the first cruise to support the Antarctic Modeling and Observation System (ATMOS) project, a WCE that was shed from the Brazil Current was sampled. Apart from traditional meteorological measurements, we used the Eddy Covariance method to directly measure the ocean–atmosphere sensible heat, latent heat, momentum, and carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes. The mechanisms of pressure adjustment and vertical mixing that can make the MABL unstable were both identified. The WCE also acted to increase the surface winds and heat fluxes from the ocean to the atmosphere. Oceanic regions at middle and high latitudes are expected to absorb atmospheric CO2, and are thereby considered as sinks, due to their cold waters. Instead, the presence of this WCE in midlatitudes, surrounded by predominantly cold waters, caused the ocean to locally act as a CO2source. The contribution to the atmosphere was estimated as 0.3 ± 0.04 mmol m−2day−1, averaged over the sampling period. The CO2transfer velocity coefficient (
K) was determined using a quadratic fit and showed an adequate representation of ocean–atmosphere fluxes. The ocean–atmosphere CO2, momentum, and heat fluxes were each closely correlated with the SST. The increase of SST inside the WCE clearly resulted in larger magnitudes of all of the ocean–atmosphere fluxes studied here. This study adds to our understanding of how oceanic mesoscale structures, such as this WCE, affect the overlying atmosphere.