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  1. Abstract

    Mesoscale features present at the Denmark Strait sill regularly enhance the volume transport of the Denmark Strait overflow (DSO). They are important for the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation and ultimately, for the global climate system. Using a realistic numerical model, we find new evidence of the causal relationship between overflow surges (i.e., mesoscale features associated with high‐transport events) and DSO cyclones observed downstream. Most of the cyclones form at the Denmark Strait sill during overflow surges and, because of potential vorticity conservation and stretching of the water column, grow as they move equatorward. A fraction of the cyclones form downstream of the sill, when anticyclonic vortices formed during high‐transport events start collapsing. Regardless of their formation mechanism, DSO cyclones weaken starting roughly 150 km downstream of the sill, and potential vorticity is only materially conserved during the growth phase.

     
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  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. Except in the trivial case of spatially uniform flow, the advection–diffusion operator of a passive scalar tracer is linear and non-self-adjoint. In this study, we exploit the linearity of the governing equation and present an analytical eigenfunction approach for computing solutions to the advection–diffusion equation in two dimensions given arbitrary initial conditions, and when the advecting flow field at any given time is a plane parallel shear flow. Our analysis illuminates the specific role that the non-self-adjointness of the linear operator plays in the solution behaviour, and highlights the multiscale nature of the scalar mixing problem given the explicit dependence of the eigenvalue–eigenfunction pairs on a multiscale parameter$q=2{\rm i}k\,{\textit {Pe}}$, where$k$is the non-dimensional wavenumber of the tracer in the streamwise direction, and${\textit {Pe}}$is the Péclet number. We complement our theoretical discussion on the spectra of the operator by computing solutions and analysing the effect of shear flow width on the scale-dependent scalar decay of tracer variance, and characterize the distinct self-similar dispersive processes that arise from the shear flow dispersion of an arbitrarily compact tracer concentration. Finally, we discuss limitations of the present approach and future directions.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 25, 2024
  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Computational oceanography is the study of ocean phenomena by numerical simulation, especially dynamical and physical phenomena. Progress in information technology has driven exponential growth in the number of global ocean observations and the fidelity of numerical simulations of the ocean in the past few decades. The growth has been exponentially faster for ocean simulations, however. We argue that this faster growth is shifting the importance of field measurements and numerical simulations for oceanographic research. It is leading to the maturation of computational oceanography as a branch of marine science on par with observational oceanography. One implication is that ultraresolved ocean simulations are only loosely constrained by observations. Another implication is that barriers to analyzing the output of such simulations should be removed. Although some specific limits and challenges exist, many opportunities are identified for the future of computational oceanography. Most important is the prospect of hybrid computational and observational approaches to advance understanding of the ocean. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Export from the Arctic and meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet together form a southward-flowing coastal current along the East Greenland shelf. This current transports enough fresh water to substantially alter the large-scale circulation of the North Atlantic, yet the coastal current’s origin and fate are poorly known due to our lack of knowledge concerning its north-south connectivity. Here, we demonstrate how the current negotiates the complex topography of Denmark Strait using in situ data and output from an ocean circulation model. We determine that the coastal current north of the strait supplies half of the transport to the coastal current south of the strait, while the other half is sourced from offshore via the shelfbreak jet, with little input from the Greenland Ice Sheet. These results indicate that there is a continuous pathway for Arctic-sourced fresh water along the entire East Greenland shelf from Fram Strait to Cape Farewell. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The Denmark Strait Overflow (DSO) is an important contributor to the lower limb of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). Determining DSO formation and its pathways is not only important for local oceanography but also critical to estimating the state and variability of the AMOC. Despite prior attempts to understand the DSO sources, its upstream pathways and circulation remain uncertain due to short-term (3–5 days) variability. This makes it challenging to study the DSO from observations. Given this complexity, this study maps the upstream pathways and along-pathway changes in its water properties, using Lagrangian backtracking of the DSO sources in a realistic numerical ocean simulation. The Lagrangian pathways confirm that several branches contribute to the DSO from the north such as the East Greenland Current (EGC), the separated EGC (sEGC), and the North Icelandic Jet (NIJ). Moreover, the model results reveal additional pathways from south of Iceland, which supplied over 16% of the DSO annually and over 25% of the DSO during winter of 2008, when the NAO index was positive. The southern contribution is about 34% by the end of March. The southern pathways mark a more direct route from the near-surface subpolar North Atlantic to the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), and needs to be explored further, with in situ observations. 
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  8. A high-resolution numerical model, together with in situ and satellite observations, is used to explore the nature and dynamics of the dominant high-frequency (from one day to one week) variability in Denmark Strait. Mooring measurements in the center of the strait reveal that warm water “flooding events” occur, whereby the North Icelandic Irminger Current (NIIC) propagates offshore and advects subtropical-origin water northward through the deepest part of the sill. Two other types of mesoscale processes in Denmark Strait have been described previously in the literature, known as “boluses” and “pulses,” associated with a raising and lowering of the overflow water interface. Our measurements reveal that flooding events occur in conjunction with especially pronounced pulses. The model indicates that the NIIC hydrographic front is maintained by a balance between frontogenesis by the large-scale flow and frontolysis by baroclinic instability. Specifically, the temperature and salinity tendency equations demonstrate that the eddies act to relax the front, while the mean flow acts to sharpen it. Furthermore, the model reveals that the two dense water processes—boluses and pulses (and hence flooding events)—are dynamically related to each other and tied to the meandering of the hydrographic front in the strait. Our study thus provides a general framework for interpreting the short-time-scale variability of Denmark Strait Overflow Water entering the Irminger Sea.

     
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