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Stommel’s box model of thermohaline circulation revisited - the role of mechanical energy supporting mixing and the wind-driven gyration

By Yu Ping Guan and Rui Xin Huang


Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2008. This article is posted here by permission of American Meteorological Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Physical Oceanography 38 (2008): 909–917, doi:10.1175/2007JPO3535.1.The classical two-box model of Stommel is extended in two directions: replacing the buoyancy constraint with an energy constraint and including the wind-driven gyre. Stommel postulated a buoyancy constraint for the thermohaline circulation, and his basic idea has evolved into the dominating theory of thermohaline circulation; however, recently, it is argued that the thermohaline circulation is maintained by mechanical energy from wind stress and tides. The major difference between these two types of models is the bifurcation structure: the Stommel-like model has two thermal modes (one stable and another one unstable) and one stable haline mode, whereas the energy-constraint model has one stable thermal mode and two saline modes (one stable and another one unstable). Adding the wind-driven gyre changes the threshold value of thermohaline bifurcation greatly; thus, the inclusion of the wind-driven gyre is a vital step in completely modeling the physical processes related to thermohaline circulation.YPG was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC, 40676022), the National Basic Research Program of China (2006CB403605), and the Guangdong Natural Science Foundation (5003672). RXH was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through CICOR Cooperative Agreement NA17RJ1223 to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Topics: Thermohaline circulation, Mixing, Wind stress, Buoyancy, Energy budget
Publisher: 'American Meteorological Society'
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1175/2007JPO3535.1
OAI identifier:

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