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Title: Parameterization of Submesoscale Mixed Layer Restratification under Sea Ice
Abstract Commonly used parameterization of mixed layer instabilities in general circulation models was developed for temperate oceans and does not take into account the presence of sea ice in any way. However, the ice–ocean drag provides a strong mechanical coupling between the sea ice and the surface ocean currents and hence may affect mixed layer restratification processes. Here we use idealized simulations of mixed layer instabilities to demonstrate that the sea ice dramatically suppresses the eddy-driven overturning in the mixed layer by dissipating the eddy kinetic energy generated during instabilities. Considering the commonly used viscous-plastic sea ice rheology, we developed an improvement to the existing mixed layer overturning parameterization, making it explicitly dependent on sea ice concentration. Below the critical sea ice concentration of about 0.68, the internal sea ice stresses are very weak and the conventional parameterization holds. At higher concentrations, the sea ice cover starts acting as a nearly immobile surface lid, inducing strong dissipation of submesoscale eddies and reducing the intensity of the restratification streamfunction up to a factor of 4 for a fully ice-covered ocean. Our findings suggest that climate projection models might be exaggerating the restratification processes under sea ice, which could contribute to biases in mixed layer depth, salinity, ice–ocean heat fluxes, and sea ice cover.  more » « less
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Physical Oceanography
Page Range / eLocation ID:
419 to 435
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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