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  1. Abstract Atmospheric rivers (ARs) result in precipitation over land and ocean. Rainfall on the ocean can generate a buoyant layer of freshwater that impacts exchanges between the surface and the mixed layer. These “fresh lenses” are important for weather and climate because they may impact the ocean stratification at all time scales. Here we use in situ ocean data, collocated with AR events, and a one-dimensional configuration of a general circulation model, to investigate the impact of AR precipitation on surface ocean salinity in the California Current System (CCS) on seasonal and event-based time scales. We find that at coastal and onshore locations the CCS freshens through the rainy season due to AR events, and years with higher AR activity are associated with a stronger freshening signal. On shorter time scales, model simulations suggest that events characteristic of CCS ARs can produce salinity changes that are detectable by ocean instruments (≥0.01 psu). Here, the surface salinity change depends linearly on rain rate and inversely on wind speed. Higher wind speeds ( U > 8 m s −1 ) induce mixing, distributing freshwater inputs to depths greater than 20 m. Lower wind speeds ( U ≤ 8 m s −1 )more »allow freshwater lenses to remain at the surface. Results suggest that local precipitation is important in setting the freshwater seasonal cycle of the CCS and that the formation of freshwater lenses should be considered for identifying impacts of atmospheric variability on the upper ocean in the CCS on weather event time scales. Significance Statement Atmospheric rivers produce large amounts of rainfall. The purpose of this study is to understand how this rain impacts the surface ocean in the California Current System on seasonal and event time scales. Our results show that a greater precipitation over the rainy season leads to a larger decrease in salinity over time. On shorter time scales, these atmospheric river precipitation events commonly produce a surface salinity response that is detectable by ocean instruments. This salinity response depends on the amount of rainfall and the wind speed. In general, higher wind speeds will cause the freshwater input from rain to mix deeper, while lower wind speeds will have reduced mixing, allowing a layer of freshwater to persist at the surface.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  2. Abstract

    The origins of the upper limb of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and the partition among different routes has been quantified with models at eddy-permitting and one eddy-resolving model or with low-resolution models assimilating observations. Here, a step toward bridging this gap is taken by using the Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE) at the eddy-permitting 1/6° horizontal resolution to compute Lagrangian diagnostics from virtual particle trajectories advected between 6.7°S and two meridional sections: one at Drake Passage (cold route) and the other from South Africa to Antarctica (warm route). Our results agree with the prevailing concept attributing the largest transport contribution to the warm route with 12.3 Sv (88%) (1 Sv ≡ 106m3s−1) compared with 1.7 Sv (12%) for the cold route. These results are compared with a similar Lagrangian experiment performed with the lower-resolution state estimate from Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean. Eulerian and Lagrangian means highlight an overall increase in the transport of the major South Atlantic currents with finer resolution, resulting in a relatively larger contribution from the cold route. In particular, the Malvinas Current to Antarctic Circumpolar Current (MC/ACC) ratio plays a more important role on the routes partition than the increasedmore »Agulhas Leakage. The relative influence of the mean flow versus the eddy flow on the routes partition is investigated by computing the mean and eddy kinetic energies and the Lagrangian-based eddy diffusivity. Lagrangian diffusivity estimates are largest in the Agulhas and Malvinas regions but advection by the mean flow dominates everywhere.

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  3. Abstract

    Forecasting Antarctic atmospheric, oceanic, and sea ice conditions on subseasonal to seasonal scales remains a major challenge. During both the freezing and melting seasons current operational ensemble forecasting systems show a systematic overestimation of the Antarctic sea-ice edge location. The skill of sea ice cover prediction is closely related to the accuracy of cloud representation in models, as the two are strongly coupled by cloud radiative forcing. In particular, surface downward longwave radiation (DLW) deficits appear to be a common shortcoming in atmospheric models over the Southern Ocean. For example, a recent comparison of ECMWF reanalysis 5th generation (ERA5) global reanalysis with the observations from McMurdo Station revealed a year-round deficit in DLW of approximately 50 Wm−2in marine air masses due to model shortages in supercooled cloud liquid water. A comparison with the surface DLW radiation observations from the Ocean Observatories Initiative mooring in the South Pacific at 54.08° S, 89.67° W, for the time period January 2016–November 2018, confirms approximately 20 Wm−2deficit in DLW in ERA5 well north of the sea-ice edge. Using a regional ocean model, we show that when DLW is artificially increased by 50 Wm−2in the simulation driven by ERA5 atmospheric forcing, the predicted seamore »ice growth agrees much better with the observations. A wide variety of sensitivity tests show that the anomalously large, predicted sea-ice extent is not due to limitations in the ocean model and that by implication the cause resides with the atmospheric forcing.

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  4. Abstract This study examines the role of the relative wind (RW) effect (wind relative to ocean current) in the regional ocean circulation and extratropical storm track in the South Indian Ocean. Comparison of two high-resolution regional coupled model simulations with/without the RW effect reveals that the most conspicuous ocean circulation response is the significant weakening of the overly energetic anticyclonic standing eddy off Port Elizabeth, South Africa, a biased feature ascribed to upstream retroflection of the Agulhas Current (AC). This opens a pathway through which the AC transports the warm and salty water mass from the subtropics, yielding marked increases in sea surface temperature (SST), upward turbulent heat flux (THF), and meridional SST gradient in the Agulhas retroflection region. These thermodynamic and dynamic changes are accompanied by the robust strengthening of the local low-tropospheric baroclinicity and the baroclinic wave activity in the atmosphere. Examination of the composite lifecycle of synoptic-scale storms subjected to the high THF events indicates a robust strengthening of the extratropical storms far downstream. Energetics calculations for the atmosphere suggest that the baroclinic energy conversion from the basic flow is the chief source of increased eddy available potential energy, which is subsequently converted to eddy kinetic energy,more »providing for the growth of transient baroclinic waves. Overall, the results suggest that the mechanical and thermal air-sea interactions are inherently and inextricably linked together to substantially influence the extratropical storm tracks in the South Indian Ocean.« less
  5. Abstract. Ocean–sea-ice coupled models constrained by various observations provide different ice thickness estimates in the Antarctic. We evaluatecontemporary monthly ice thickness from four reanalyses in the Weddell Sea: the German contribution of the project Estimating the Circulation and Climate ofthe Ocean Version 2 (GECCO2), the Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE), the Ensemble Kalman Filter system based on the Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean (NEMO-EnKF) and the Global Ice–Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (GIOMAS). The evaluation is performed againstreference satellite and in situ observations from ICESat-1, Envisat, upward-looking sonars and visual ship-based sea-ice observations. Compared withICESat-1, NEMO-EnKF has the highest correlation coefficient (CC) of 0.54 and lowest root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.44 m. Compared within situ observations, SOSE has the highest CC of 0.77 and lowest RMSE of 0.72 m. All reanalyses underestimate ice thickness near the coast ofthe western Weddell Sea with respect to ICESat-1 and in situ observations even though these observational estimates may be biased low. GECCO2 andNEMO-EnKF reproduce the seasonal variation in first-year ice thickness reasonably well in the eastern Weddell Sea. In contrast, GIOMAS ice thicknessperforms best in the central Weddell Sea, while SOSE ice thickness agrees most with the observations from the southern coastmore »of the Weddell Sea. Inaddition, only NEMO-EnKF can reproduce the seasonal evolution of the large-scale spatial distribution of ice thickness, characterized by the thickice shifting from the southwestern and western Weddell Sea in summer to the western and northwestern Weddell Sea in spring. We infer that the thickice distribution is correlated with its better simulation of northward ice motion in the western Weddell Sea. These results demonstrate thepossibilities and limitations of using current sea-ice reanalysis for understanding the recent variability of sea-ice volume in the Antarctic.« less