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Billheimer, S, Talley LD.  2013.  Near cessation of Eighteen Degree Water renewal in the western North Atlantic in the warm winter of 2011-2012. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118:6838-6853.   10.1002/2013jc009024   AbstractWebsite

The winter of 2011-2012 was a particularly weak season for the renewal of "Eighteen Degree Water" (EDW), the Subtropical Mode Water of the western North Atlantic, as demonstrated by Argo and repeat hydrography. Weak, late winter buoyancy forcing produced shallower than usual winter mixed layers throughout the subtropical gyre, failing to thoroughly ventilate the underlying mode water, and can likely be attributed to the coinciding high, positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The only region where EDW was renewed was in the far northeastern Sargasso Sea where it is understood that the Gulf Stream plays a central role in formation; no EDW formed over the large regions of the gyre where deep winter mixed layers driven by surface buoyancy loss normally create EDW. The present investigation evaluates 2011-2012 winter buoyancy content anomalies, surface buoyancy fluxes, and advection of buoyancy via the Gulf Stream and compares them with the previous seven winters that exhibited more vigorous EDW formation. The weak 2011-2012 formation did not result from increased Gulf Stream heat advection, and was also not driven by preconditioning as the buoyancy content of the region prior to the onset of winter forcing was not unusually high. Rather, the weak formation resulted from climatologically weak surface cooling late in winter. The winter of 2007-2008 also experienced particularly weak EDW formation under similar conditions, including a high NAO and weak late winter surface cooling.

Oka, E, Talley LD, Suga T.  2007.  Temporal variability of winter mixed layer in the mid- to high-latitude North Pacific. Journal of Oceanography. 63:293-307.   10.1007/s10872-007-0029-2   AbstractWebsite

Temperature and salinity data from 2001 through 2005 from Argo profiling floats have been analyzed to examine the time evolution of the mixed layer depth (MLD) and density in the late fall to early spring in mid to high latitudes of the North Pacific. To examine MLD variations on various time scales from several days to seasonal, relatively small criteria (0.03 kg m(-3) in density and 0.2 degrees C in temperature) are used to determine MLD. Our analysis emphasizes that maximum MLD in some regions occurs much earlier than expected. We also observe systematic differences in timing between maximum mixed layer depth and density. Specifically, in the formation regions of the Subtropical and Central Mode Waters and in the Bering Sea, where the winter mixed layer is deep, MLD reaches its maximum in late winter (February and March), as expected. In the eastern subarctic North Pacific, however, the shallow, strong, permanent halocline prevents the mixed layer from deepening after early January, resulting in a range of timings of maximum MLD between January and April. In the southern subtropics; from 20 degrees to 30 degrees N, where the winter mixed layer is relatively shallow, MLD reaches a maximum even earlier in December-January. In each region, MLD fluctuates on short time scales as it increases from late fall through early winter. Corresponding to this short-term variation, maximum MLD almost always occurs 0 to 100 days earlier than maximum mixed layer density in all regions.

Talley, LD.  1993.  Distribution and Formation of North Pacific Intermediate Water. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 23:517-537.   10.1175/1520-0485(1993)023<0517:dafonp>;2   AbstractWebsite

The North Pacific Intermediate Water (NPIW), defined as the main salinity minimum in the subtropical North Pacific, is examined with respect to its overall property distributions. These suggest that NPIW is formed only in the northwestern subtropical gyre; that is, in the mixed water region between the Kuroshio Extension and Oyashio front. Subsequent modification along its advective path increases its salinity and reduces its oxygen. The mixed water region is studied using all bottle data available from the National Oceanographic Data Center, with particular emphasis on several winters. Waters from the Oyashio, Kuroshio, and the Tsugaru Warm Current influence the mixed water region, with a well-defined local surface water mass formed as a mixture of the surface waters from these three sources. Significant salinity minima in the mixed water region are grouped into those that are directly related to the winter surface density and are found at the base of the oxygen-saturated surface layer, and those that form deeper, around warm core rings. Both could be a source of the more uniform NPIW to the east, the former through preferential erosion of the minima from the top and the latter through simple advection. Both sources could exist all year with a narrowly defined density range that depends on winter mixed-layer density in the Oyashio region.