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  1. Abstract

    The mixing of tracers by mesoscale eddies, parameterized in many ocean general circulation models (OGCMs) as a diffusive‐advective process, contributes significantly to the distribution of tracers in the ocean. In the ocean interior, diffusive contribution occurs mostly along the direction parallel to local neutral density surfaces. However, near the surface of the ocean, small‐scale turbulence and the presence of the boundary itself break this constraint and the mesoscale transport occurs mostly along a plane parallel to the ocean surface (horizontal). Although this process is easily represented in OGCMs with geopotential vertical coordinates, the representation is more challenging in OGCMs that use a general vertical coordinate, where surfaces can be tilted with respect to the horizontal. We propose a method for representing the diffusive horizontal mesoscale fluxes within the surface boundary layer of general vertical coordinate OGCMs. The method relies on regridding/remapping techniques to represent tracers in a geopotential grid. Horizontal fluxes are calculated on this grid and then remapped back to the native grid, where fluxes are applied. The algorithm is implemented in an ocean model and tested in idealized and realistic settings. Horizontal diffusion can account for up to 10% of the total northward heat transport in the Southern Ocean and Western boundary current regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It also reduces the vertical stratification of the upper ocean, which results in an overall deepening of the surface boundary layer depth. Finally, enabling horizontal diffusion leads to meaningful reductions in the near‐surface global bias of potential temperature and salinity.

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  2. Abstract

    There are two distinct parameterizations for the restratification effect of mesoscale eddies: the Greatbatch and Lamb (1990, GL90, parameterization, which mixes horizontal momentum in the vertical, and the Gent and McWilliams (1990, GM90, parameterization, which flattens isopycnals adiabatically. Even though these two parameterizations are effectively equivalent under the assumption of quasi‐geostrophy, GL90 has been used much less than GM90, and exclusively inz‐coordinate models. In this paper, we compare the GL90 and GM90 parameterizations in an idealized isopycnal coordinate model, both from a theoretical and practical perspective. From a theoretical perspective, GL90 is more attractive than GM90 for isopycnal coordinate models because GL90 provides an interpretation that is fully consistent with thickness‐weighted isopycnal averaging, while GM90 cannot be entirely reconciled with any fully isopycnal averaging framework. From a practical perspective, the GL90 and GM90 parameterizations lead to extremely similar energy levels, flow and vertical structure, even though their energetic pathways are very different. The striking resemblance between the GL90 and GM90 simulations persists from non‐eddying through eddy‐permitting resolution. We conclude that GL90 is a promising alternative to GM90 for isopycnal coordinate models, where it is more consistent with theory, computationally more efficient, easier to implement, and numerically more stable. Assessing the applicability of GL90 in realistic global ocean simulations with hybrid coordinate schemes should be a priority for future work.

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  3. Abstract. We describe an idealized primitive-equation model for studying mesoscale turbulence and leverage a hierarchy of grid resolutions to make eddy-resolving calculations on the finest grids more affordable.The model has intermediate complexity, incorporating basin-scale geometry with idealized Atlantic and Southern oceans and with non-uniform ocean depth to allow for mesoscale eddy interactions with topography.The model is perfectly adiabatic and spans the Equator and thus fills a gap between quasi-geostrophic models, which cannot span two hemispheres, and idealized general circulation models, which generally include diabatic processes and buoyancy forcing.We show that the model solution is approaching convergence in mean kinetic energy for the ocean mesoscale processes of interest and has a rich range of dynamics with circulation features that emerge only due to resolving mesoscale turbulence. 
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  4. Abstract

    Tropical modes of variability, including the Madden‐Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO), are challenging to represent in climate models. Previous studies suggest their fundamental dependence on zonal asymmetry, but such dependence is rarely addressed with fully coupled ocean dynamics. This study fills the gap by using fully coupled, idealized Community Earth System Model (CESM) and comparing two nominally ocean‐covered configurations with and without a meridional boundary. For the MJO‐like intraseasonal mode, its separation from equatorial Kelvin waves and the eastward propagation of its convective and dynamic signals depend on the zonal gradient of the mean state. For the ENSO‐like interannual mode, in the absence of the ocean's meridional boundary, a circum‐equatorial dominant mode emerges with distinct ocean dynamics. The interpretation of the dependence of these modes on zonal asymmetry is relevant to their representation in realistic climate models.

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  5. Abstract

    Idealized models can reveal insights into Earth’s climate system by reducing its complexities. However, their potential is undermined by the scarcity of fully coupled idealized models with components comparable to contemporary, comprehensive Earth System Models. To fill this gap, we compare and contrast the climates of two idealized planets which build on the Simpler Models initiative of the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Using the fully coupled CESM, the Aqua configuration is ocean‐covered except for two polar land caps, and the Ridge configuration has an additional pole‐to‐pole grid‐cell‐wide continent. Contrary to most sea surface temperature profiles assumed for atmosphere‐only aquaplanet experiments with the thermal maximum on the equator, the coupled Aqua configuration is characterized by a global cold belt of wind‐driven equatorial upwelling, analogous to the eastern Pacific cold tongue. The presence of the meridional boundary on Ridge introduces zonal asymmetry in thermal and circulation features, similar to the contrast between western and eastern Pacific. This zonal asymmetry leads to a distinct climate state from Aqua, cooled by ∼2°C via the radiative feedback of clouds and water vapor. The meridional boundary of Ridge is also crucial for producing a more Earth‐like climate state compared to Aqua, including features of atmospheric and ocean circulation, the seasonal cycle of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, and the meridional heat transport. The mean climates of these two basic configurations provide a baseline for exploring other idealized ocean geometries, and their application for investigating various features and scale interactions in the coupled climate system.

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