861 research outputs found

    Warm spiral streamers over Gulf Stream warm-core rings

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    Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2020. 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 50(11),(2020): 3331–3351, https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-20-0035.1.This study examines the generation of warm spiral structures (referred to as spiral streamers here) over Gulf Stream warm-core rings. Satellite sea surface temperature imagery shows spiral streamers forming after warmer water from the Gulf Stream or newly formed warm-core rings impinges onto old warm-core rings and then intrudes into the old rings. Field measurements in April 2018 capture the vertical structure of a warm spiral streamer as a shallow lens of low-density water winding over an old ring. Observations also show subduction on both sides of the spiral streamer, which carries surface waters downward. Idealized numerical model simulations initialized with observed water-mass densities reproduce spiral streamers over warm-core rings and reveal that their formation is a nonlinear submesoscale process forced by mesoscale dynamics. The negative density anomaly of the intruding water causes a density front at the interface between the intruding water and surface ring water, which, through thermal wind balance, drives a local anticyclonic flow. The pressure gradient and momentum advection of the local interfacial flow push the intruding water toward the ring center. The large-scale anticyclonic flow of the ring and the radial motion of the intruding water together form the spiral streamer. The observed subduction on both sides of the spiral streamer is part of the secondary cross-streamer circulation resulting from frontogenesis on the stretching streamer edges. The surface divergence of the secondary circulation pushes the side edges of the streamer away from each other, widens the warm spiral on the surface, and thus enhances its surface signal.Authors W. G. Zhang and D. J. McGillicuddy are both supported by the National Science Foundation through Grant OCE 1657803

    Dynamics of the direct intrusion of Gulf Stream ring water onto the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf

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    © The Author(s), 2015. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 42 (2015): 7687–7695, doi:10.1002/2015GL065530.Onshore intrusions of offshore waters onto the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf can greatly affect shelf circulation, biogeochemistry, and fisheries. Previous studies have concentrated on onshore intrusions of slope water. Here we present a direct intrusion of Gulf Stream warm-core ring water onto the shelf representing a previously unknown exchange process at the shelfbreak. Impingement of warm-core rings at the shelfbreak generates along-isobath intrusions that grow like Pinocchio's nose, extending hundreds of kilometers to the southwest. By combining satellite and Ocean Observatory Initiative Pioneer Array data and idealized numerical simulations, we discover that the intrusion results from topographically induced vorticity variation of the ring water, rather than from entrainment of the shelfbreak frontal jet. This intrusion of the Gulf Stream ring water has important biogeochemical implications and could facilitate migration of marine species across the shelfbreak barrier and transport low-nutrient surface Gulf Stream ring water to the otherwise productive shelfbreak region.National Science Foundation Grant Number: OCE-112912

    Length scale of the finite-amplitude meanders of shelfbreak fronts

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    Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2015. 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 45 (2015): 2598–2620, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-14-0249.1.Through combining analytical arguments and numerical models, this study investigates the finite-amplitude meanders of shelfbreak fronts characterized by sloping isopycnals outcropping at both the surface and the shelfbreak bottom. The objective is to provide a formula for the meander length scale that can explain observed frontal length scale variability and also be verified with observations. Considering the frontal instability to be a mixture of barotropic and baroclinic instability, the derived along-shelf meander length scale formula is [b1/(1 + a1S1/2)]NH/f, where N is the buoyancy frequency; H is the depth of the front; f is the Coriolis parameter; S is the Burger number measuring the ratio of energy conversion associated with barotropic and baroclinic instability; and a1 and b1 are empirical constants. Initial growth rate of the frontal instability is formulated as [b2(1 + a1S1/2)/(1 + a2αS1/2)]NH/L, where α is the bottom slope at the foot of the front, and a2 and b2 are empirical constants. The formulas are verified using numerical sensitivity simulations, and fitting of the simulated and formulated results gives a1 = 2.69, b1 = 14.65, a2 = 5.1 × 103, and b2 = 6.2 × 10−2. The numerical simulations also show development of fast-growing frontal symmetric instability when the minimum initial potential vorticity is negative. Although frontal symmetric instability leads to faster development of barotropic and baroclinic instability at later times, it does not significantly influence the meander length scale. The derived meander length scale provides a framework for future studies of the influences of external forces on shelfbreak frontal circulation and cross-frontal exchange.WGZ and GGG were supported by the National Science Foundation through Grant OCE-1129125.2016-04-0

    The dispersal of dense water formed in an idealized coastal polynya on a shallow sloping shelf

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    Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2014. 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 44 (2014): 1563–1581, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-13-0188.1.This study examines the dispersal of dense water formed in an idealized coastal polynya on a sloping shelf in the absence of ambient circulation and stratification. Both numerical and laboratory experiments reveal two separate bottom pathways for the dense water: an offshore plume moving downslope into deeper ambient water and a coastal current flowing in the direction of Kelvin wave propagation. Scaling analysis shows that the velocity of the offshore plume is proportional not only to the reduced gravity, bottom slope, and inverse of the Coriolis parameter, but also to the ratio of the dense water depth to total water depth. The dense water coastal current is generated by the along-shelf baroclinic pressure gradient. Its dynamics can be separated into two stages: (i) near the source region, where viscous terms are negligible, its speed is proportional to the reduced gravity wave speed and (ii) in the far field, where bottom drag becomes important and balances the pressure gradient, the velocity is proportional to Hc[g′/(LCd)]1/2 in which Hc is the water depth at the coast, g′ the reduced gravity, Cd the quadratic bottom drag coefficient, and L the along-shelf span of the baroclinic pressure gradient. The velocity scalings are verified using numerical and laboratory sensitivity experiments. The numerical simulations suggest that only 3%–23% of the dense water enters the coastal pathway, and the percentage depends highly on the ratio of the velocities of the offshore and coastal plumes. This makes the velocity ratio potentially useful for observational studies to assess the amount of dense water formed in coastal polynyas.WGZ was sponsored by the WHOI Arctic Research Initiative program. CC received support from the National Science Foundation Project OCE-1130008.2014-12-0

    Frontal subduction of the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf water at the onshore edge of a warm-core ring

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    Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2018. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 123(11), (2018): 7795-7818. doi: 10.1029/2018JC013794.This work studies the subduction of the shelf water along the onshore edge of a warm‐core ring that impinges on the edge of the Mid‐Atlantic Bight continental shelf. The dynamical analysis is based on observations by satellites and from the Ocean Observatories Initiative Pioneer Array observatory as well as idealized numerical model simulations. They together show that frontogenesis‐induced submesoscale frontal subduction with order‐one Rossby and Froude numbers occurs on the onshore edge of the ring. The subduction flow results from the onshore migration of the warm‐core ring that intensifies the density front on the interface of the ring and shelf waters. The subduction is a part of the cross‐front secondary circulation trying to relax the intensifying density front. The dramatically different physical and biogeochemical properties of the ring and shelf waters provide a great opportunity to visualize the subduction phenomenon. Entrained by the ring‐edge current, the subducted shelf water is subsequently transported offshore below a surface layer of ring water and alongside of the surface‐visible shelf‐water streamer. It explains the historical observations of isolated subsurface packets of shelf water along the ring periphery in the slope sea. Model‐based estimate suggests that this type of subduction‐associated subsurface cross‐shelfbreak transport of the shelf water could be substantial relative to other major forms of shelfbreak water exchange. This study also proposes that outward spreading of the ring‐edge front by the frontal subduction may facilitate entrainment of the shelf water by the ring‐edge current and enhances the shelf‐water streamer transport at the shelf edge.W. G. Z. was supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE‐1657853, OCE‐1657803, and OCE 1634965. JP is grateful for the support of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Summer Student Fellow Program in 2016 and 2017. W. G. Z. thanks Kenneth Brink, Glen Gawarkiewicz, Rocky Geyer, Steven Lentz, Dennis McGillicuddy, Robert Todd, and John Trowbridge for helpful discussions during the course of the study or useful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. The satellite sea surface temperature data were obtained from the University of Delaware Ocean Exploration, Remote Sensing, Biogeography Lab (led by Matthew Oliver), through the Mid‐Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARACOOS) data server (http://tds.maracoos.org/thredds/catalog.html). The OOI Pioneer Array mooring and glider data presented in this paper were downloaded from the National Science Foundation OOI data portal (http://ooinet.oceanobservatories.org) in July–August 2016.2019-04-1

    Intrinsic nonlinearity and spectral structure of internal tides at an idealized Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf break

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    Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2013. 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 43 (2013): 2641–2660, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-12-0239.1.To quantify dynamical aspects of internal-tide generation at the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf break, this study employs an idealized ocean model initialized by climatological summertime stratification and forced by monochromatic barotropic tidal currents at the offshore boundary. The Froude number of the scenario is subunity, and the bathymetric slope offshore of the shelf break is supercritical. A barotropic-to-baroclinic energy conversion rate of 335 W m−1 is found, with 14% of the energy locally dissipated through turbulence and bottom friction and 18% radiated onto the shelf. Consistent with prior studies, nonlinear effects result in additional super- and subharmonic internal waves at the shelf break. The subharmonic waves are subinertial, evanescent, and mostly trapped within a narrow beam of internal waves at the forcing frequency. They likely result from nonresonant triad interaction associated with strong nonlinearity. Strong vertical shear associated with the subharmonic waves tends to enhance local energy dissipation and turbulent momentum exchange (TME). A simulation with reduced tidal forcing shows an expected diminished level of harmonic energy. A quasi-linear simulation verifies the role of momentum advection in controlling the relative phases of internal tides and the efficiency of barotropic-to-baroclinic energy conversion. The local TME is tightly coupled with the internal-wave dynamics: for the chosen configuration, neglecting TME causes the internal-wave energy to be overestimated by 12%, and increasing it to high levels damps the waves on the continental shelf. This work implies a necessity to carefully consider nonlinearity and turbulent processes in the calculation of internal tidal waves generated at the shelf break.This research was supported by Office of Naval Research Grant N00014-11-1-0701.2014-06-0

    Wind-driven circulation in a shelf valley. Part II : Dynamics of the along-valley velocity and transport

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    Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2018. 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 48 (2018): 883-904, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-17-0084.1.The dynamics controlling the along-valley (cross shelf) flow in idealized shallow shelf valleys with small to moderate Burger number are investigated, and analytical scales of the along-valley flows are derived. This paper follows Part I, which shows that along-shelf winds in the opposite direction to coastal-trapped wave propagation (upwelling regime) force a strong up-valley flow caused by the formation of a lee wave. In contrast, along-shelf winds in the other direction (downwelling regime) do not generate a lee wave and consequently force a relatively weak net down-valley flow. The valley flows in both regimes are cyclostrophic with 0(1) Rossby number. A major difference between the two regimes is the along-shelf length scales of the along-valley flows L. In the upwelling regime Ls, depends on the valley width W, and the wavelength lambda(1w) of the coastal-trapped lee wave arrested by the along-shelf flow U-s. In the downwelling regime L depends on the inertial length scale U-s|'f and W-c. The along-valley velocity scale in the upwelling regime, given by V-u approximate to root pi H-c/H-s integral W-c lambda(1w)/2 pi L-x (1+L-x(2)/L-c(2))(-1) e(-(pi Wc)/(lambda 1w),) is based on potential vorticity (PV) conservation and lee-wave dynamics (Hs and H, are the shelf and valley depth scales, respectively, and fis the Coriolis parameter). The velocity scale in the downwelling regime, given by |v(d)| approximate to (H-s/H-s)[1 + (L-x(2)/L-x(2))](-1) fL, is based on PV conservation. The velocity scales are validated by the numerical sensitivity simulations and can be useful for observational studies of along -valley transports. The work provides a framework for investigating cross -shelf transport induced by irregular shelf bathymetry and calls for future studies of this type under realistic environmental conditions and over a broader parameter space.Both WGZ and SJL were supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Grant OCE 1154575.WGZis also supported by the NSF Grant OCE 1634965 and SJL by NSF Grant OCE 1558874.2018-10-1

    Impact of shelf valleys on the spread of surface-trapped river plumes

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    Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2021. 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 51(1), (2021): 247-266, https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-20-0098.1.This study focuses on mechanisms of shelf valley bathymetry affecting the spread of riverine freshwater in the nearshore region. In the context of Changjiang River, a numerical model is used with different no-tide idealized configurations to simulate development of unforced river plumes over a sloping bottom, with and without a shelf valley off the estuary mouth. All simulated freshwater plumes are surface-trapped with continuously growing bulges near the estuary mouth and narrow coastal currents downstream. The simulations indicate that a shelf valley tends to compress the bulge along the direction of the valley long axis and modify the incident angle of the bulge flow impinging toward the coast, which then affects the strength of the coastal current. The bulge compression results from geostrophic adjustment and isobath-following tendency of the depth-averaged flow in the bulge region. Generally, the resulting change in the direction of the bulge impinging flow enhances down-shelf momentum advection and freshwater delivery into the coastal current. Sensitivity simulations with altered river discharges Q, Coriolis parameter, shelf bottom slope, valley geometry, and ambient stratification show that enhancement of down-shelf freshwater transport in the coastal current, ΔQc, increases with increasing valley depth within the bulge region and decreasing slope Burger number of the ambient shelf. Assuming potential vorticity conservation, a scaling formula of ΔQc/Q is developed, and it agrees well with results of the sensitivity simulations. Mechanisms of valley influences on unforced river plumes revealed here will help future studies of topographic influence on river plumes under more realistic conditions.This work is conducted by Canbo Xiao and Weifeng (Gordon) Zhang during CX’s one-year visit at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in 2018–19. CX was supported by China Scholarship Council

    Is biological productivity enhanced at the New England shelfbreak front?

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    Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2013. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 118 (2013): 517–535, doi:10.1002/jgrc.20068.A two-dimensional (cross-shelf) numerical model of the mean seasonal circulation offshore of southern New England predicts upwelling at the shelfbreak front. Expected ramifications of this upwelling include enhancement of nutrient supply, phytoplankton biomass, and productivity. However, seasonal climatologies of chlorophyll based on both in situ data and satellite observations show no mean enhancement at the front. We investigate this apparent discrepancy with a four-component planktonic ecosystem model coupled to the two-dimensional physical model. Nutrient fields are restored to climatological values at depth, and upper ocean values evolve freely according to physical and biological forcing. Vertical diffusivity is based on seasonally averaged surface and bottom mixed layer depths compiled from in situ observations. The model reproduces the general pattern of the observed cross-shelf and seasonal variations of the chlorophyll distribution. It predicts a local enhancement of phytoplankton productivity at the shelfbreak in spring and summer as a result of the persistently upwelled nutrient-rich slope water. In the model, zooplankton grazing prevents accumulation of phytoplankton biomass at the site of the upwelling. The predicted enhancement of primary productivity (but not phytoplankton biomass) at the shelfbreak constitutes a hypothesis that could be tested in the future with suitable measurements from regional long-term observatories, such as the Ocean Observatories Initiative Pioneer Array.WGZ was supported by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) postdoctoral scholarship program, the WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute, and the National Science Foundation through grant OCE-1129125. DJM and GGG were supported by ONR grant N00014-06-1-0739. DJM gratefully acknowledges support of WHOI’s H. W. Jannasch Chair.2013-07-3

    Modeling and analysis of internal-tide generation and beamlike onshore propagation in the vicinity of shelfbreak canyons

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    Author Posting. © American Meteorological Society, 2014. 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 44 (2014): 834-849, doi:10.1175/JPO-D-13-0179.1.A hydrostatic numerical model with alongshore-uniform barotropic M2 tidal boundary forcing and idealized shelfbreak canyon bathymetries is used to study internal-tide generation and onshore propagation. A control simulation with Mid-Atlantic Bight representative bathymetry is supported by other simulations that serve to identify specific processes. The canyons and adjacent slopes are transcritical in steepness with respect to M2 internal wave characteristics. Although the various canyons are symmetrical in structure, barotropic-to-baroclinic energy conversion rates Cυ are typically asymmetrical within them. The resulting onshore-propagating internal waves are the strongest along beams in the horizontal plane, with the stronger beam in the control simulation lying on the side with higher Cυ. Analysis of the simulation results suggests that the cross-canyon asymmetrical Cυ distributions are caused by multiple-scattering effects on one canyon side slope, because the phase variation in the spatially distributed internal-tide sources, governed by variations in the orientation of the bathymetry gradient vector, allows resonant internal-tide generation. A less complex, semianalytical, modal internal wave propagation model with sources placed along the critical-slope locus (where the M2 internal wave characteristic is tangent to the seabed) and variable source phasing is used to diagnose the physics of the horizontal beams of onshore internal wave radiation. Model analysis explains how the cross-canyon phase and amplitude variations in the locally generated internal tides affect parameters of the internal-tide beams. Under the assumption that strong internal tides on continental shelves evolve to include nonlinear wave trains, the asymmetrical internal-tide generation and beam radiation effects may lead to nonlinear internal waves and enhanced mixing occurring preferentially on one side of shelfbreak canyons, in the absence of other influencing factors.All three authors were supported by Office of Naval Research (ONR) Grant N00014-11-1-0701. WGZ was additionally supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant OCE-1154575, and TFD was additionally supported by NSF Grant OCE-1060430.2014-09-0
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