A new formulation is proposed for the evaluation of the dianeutral transport in the ocean. The method represents an extension of the classical diagnostic approach for estimating the water-mass formation from the buoyancy balance. The inclusion of internal sources such as the penetrative solar shortwave radiation (i.e., depth-dependent heat transfer) in the estimate of surface buoyancy fluxes has a significant impact in several oceanic regions, and the former simplified formulation can lead to a 100% error in the estimate of water-mass formation due to surface buoyancy fluxes. Furthermore, internal mixing can also be overestimated in inversions of in situ data when the shortwave radiation is not allowed to be penetrative.<br/>The method examines the evolution equation of neutral density via the tendencies of potential temperature and salinity. The neutral density framework does not require the choice of a reference pressure and thus, unlike previous approaches that consider potential density, it is well suited for examining the whole open-ocean water column.<br/>The methodology is easy to implement, particularly for ocean numerical models. The authors present here its application to a long simulation made with an ice–ocean global model, which allowed the method to be validated.<br/
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